Skip to main content

We will keep fighting for all libraries - stand with us!

Full text of "Typhoon"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 



i^"^ ziT t^Ci*P 









Garden Citt Nxw Yobx: 




• • 


Cofyrighi, tgaa, hy 


AU rights resenedj imduding tkai ef 

iransUUum kiloforngi^ languages ^ 

including the Scandinaman 





^ A faint burst of lightning quivered all 
around, as if flashed into a black 
and secret chamber of the sea, with 
a floor of foaming crests ** 


'<- ***A11 you have to do is to take care 

that they don't hoist the elephant 
upside-down "* . . . • i6 

**At that moment Captain Mac Whirr 
crossed the deck, umbrella in hand, 
escorted by a Chinaman who also 
carried an umbrella " . • .18 

** The sun, pale and without rays, poured 
a leaden heat and the Chinamen 
were lying prostrate about the 
decks" 36 

^The little brass wheel in his hands 

seemed a bright and fragile toy" . 126 

* He and Jukes looked at each other " 148 

• *« 'V * W 


steamer Nan*Shan had a physio- 
gnomy that, in the order of material ap- 
pearances, was the exact counterpart of 
his mind ; it presented no marked charac* 
teristics of firmness or stupidity; it had 
no pronounced characteristics whatever: 
it was simply ordinary, irresponsive, and 

The only thing his aspect might have 
been said to suggest, at times, was bash- 
fulness; because he would sit, in business 
offices ashore, sunburnt and smiling 
faintly, with downcast eyes. When he 
raised them they were perceived to be di- 
rect in their glance and of blue colour. 

2 Typhoon 

His hair was fair and extremely fine, 
clasping from temple to temple the bald 
dome of his skull in a clamp as of fluffy 
silk. The hair of his face, on the con- 
trary, carroty and flaming, resembled a 
growth of copper wire clipped short to the 
line of the Up ; while, no matter how close 
he shaved, fiery metallic gleams passed, 
when he moved his head, over the surface 
of his cheeks. He was rather below the 
medium height, a bit round-shouldered, 
and so sturdy of limb that his clothes al- 
ways looked a shade too tight for his arms 
and legs. As if unable to grasp what is 
due to the difference of latitudes, he wore 
a brown bowler hat, a complete suit of a 
brownish hue, and clumsy black boots. 
These harbour togs gave to his thick fig- 
ure an air of stiff and uncouth smartness. 
A thin silver watch-chain looped his 
waistcoat, and he never left his ship for 
the shore without clutching in his power- 
ful hairy fist an elegant umbrella of the 
very best quality, but generally unrolled. 

Typhoon 3 

Young Jukes, the chief mate, attending 
his commander to the gangway, would 
sometimes venture to say with the great- 
est gentleness: ** Allow me, sir" — and, 
possessing himself of the umbrella defer- 
entially, would elevate the ferule, shake 
the folds, twirl a neat furl in a jiffy, and 
hand it back ; going through the perform- 
ance with a face of such portentous 
gravity that Mr, Solomon Rout, the 
chief-engineer, smoking his morning cigar 
over the skylight, would turn away his 
head in order to hide a smile. "Oh! 
Aye ! The blessed gamp. . , . Thank 
'ee. Jukes, thank *ee," would mutter 
Captain MacWhirr heartily, without 
looking up. 

Having just enough imagination to 
carry him through each successive day, 
and no more, he was tranquilly sure of 
himself, and from the very same cause he 
was not in the least conceited. It is your 
imaginative superior who is touchy, over- 
bearing, and difficult to please: but every 

4 Typhoon 

ship Captain Mac Whirr commanded was 
the floating abode of harmony and peace. 
It was, in truth, as impossible for him to 
take a flight of fancy as it would be for a 
watch-maker to put together a chronome- 
ter with nothing except a two-pound 
hammer and a whip-saw in the way of 
tools. Yet the uninteresting lives of men 
so entirely given to the actuality of the 
bare existence have their mysterious side. 
It was impossible in Captain MacWhirr's 
case, for instance, to understand what 
under heaven could have induced that 
perfectly satisfactory son of a petty grocer 
in Belfast to run away to sea. And yet 
he had done that very thing at the age of 
fifteen. It was enough, when you thought 
it over, to give you the idea of an im- 
mense, potent, and invisible hand thrust 
into the ant-heap of the earth, laying hold 
of shoulders, knocking heads together, 
and setting the unconscious faces of the 
multitude towards inconceivable goah 
and in undreamt-of directions. 

Typhoon 5 

His father never really forgave him for 
this undutiful stupidity. "We could have 
got on without him/' he used to say, later 
on; "but there 's the business. And he 
an only son, too ! " His mother wept very 
much after his disappearance. As it had 
never occurred to him to leave word be- 
hind, he was mourned over for dead till, 
after eight months, his first letter arrived 
from Taleahuano. It was short and con- 
tained the statement, "We had very fine 
weather on our passage out." But evid- 
ently, in the writer's mind, the only im- 
portant intelligence was to the effect that 
his Captain had, on the very day of writ- 
ing, entered him regularly on the ship's 
articles as Ordinary Seaman. "Because 
I can do the work," he explained. The 
mother again wept copiously, while the re- 
mark, "Tom *s an ass," expressed the 
emotions of the father. He was a corpu- 
lent man, with a gift for sly chaffing, 
which to the end of his life he exer- 
cfsed in his intercourse with his son, a 

6 Typhoon 

little pityingly, as if upon a half-witted 

MacWhirr's visits to his home were 
necessarily rare, and in the course of years 
he despatched other letters to his parents, 
informing them of his succcessive promo- 
tions and of his movements upon the vast 
earth. In these missives could be found 
sentences like this: "The heat here is 
very great"; or, **0n Xmas day at 4 
P.M. we fell in with some icebergs." The 
old people became ultimately acquainted 
with a good many names of ships and 
with the names of the skippers who com- 
manded them, with the names of Scotch 
and English shipowners, with the names 
of seas, oceans, straits, promontories; 
with outlandish names of lumber-ports, of 
rice-ports, of cotton-ports ; with the names 
of islands; with the name of their son's 
young woman. She was called Lucy. It 
did not suggest itself to him to mention 
whether he thought the name pretty. 
And then they died. 

Typhoon 7 

The great day of Mac Whirr's marriage 
came in due course, following shortly 
upon the great day when he got his first 
command. All these events had taken 
place many years before the morning 
when,* in the chart-room of the steamer 
Nan-Shan^ he stood confronted by the fall 
of a barometer he had no reason to dis- 
trust. The fall — taking into account the 
excellence of the instrument, the time of 
the year, and the ship's position on the 
terrestrial globe — ^was of a nature omin- 
ously prophetic, but the red face of the 
man betrayed no sort of inward disturb- 
ance. Omens were as nothing to him, 
and he was unable to discover the mes- 
sage of a prophecy till the fulfilment 
had brought it home to his very door. 
"That *s a fall and no mistake," he 
thought. "There must be some uncom- 
monly dirty weather knocking about/* 


THE Nan-Shan was on her way from 
the southward to the treaty port of 
Fu-chau with some cargo in her lower 
holds and two hundred Chinese coolies 
returning to their village homes in the 
province of Fo-Kien, after a few years of 
work in various tropical colonies. The 
morning was fine, the oily sea heaved 
without a sparkle, and there was a queer 
white, misty patch in the sky like a halo 
of the sun. The fore-deck, packed with 
Chinamen, was full of sombre clothing, yel- 
low faces, and pigtails, and sprinkled over 
with a good many naked shoulders, for 
there was no wind, and the heat was close. 
The coolies lounged, talked, smoked, or 
stared over the rail ; some, drawing water 
over the side, sluiced each other ; a few 

viept on hatches, while several small part* 


Typhoon 9 

ies of six sat on their heels, surrounding 
iron trays with plates of rice and tiny 
teacups; and every single Celestial of 
them was carrying with him all he had in 
the world — a wooden chest with a ringing 
lock and brass on the corners, containing 
the savings of his labour : some clothes of 
ceremony, sticks of incense, a little opium 
maybe, bits of nameless rubbish of con- 
ventional value, and a small hoard of sil- 
ver dollars, toiled for in coal-lighters, won 
in gambling-houses or in petty trading, 
grubbed out of earth, sweated out in 
mines, on railway lines, in deadly jungle, 
under heavy burdens — amassed patiently, 
guarded with care, cherished fiercely. 

A cross swell had set in from the direc- 
tion of Formosa channel about ten o'clock 
without disturbing these passengers 
much, because the Nan-SAan, with her 
flat bottom, rolling chocks on bilges, and 
great breadth of beam, had a reputation of 
an exceptionally steady ship in a seaway. 
Mr. Jukes, in moments of expansior 

lo Typhoon 

on shore, would proclaim loudly that 
the "old girl was as good as she was 
pretty." It would never have occurred 
to Captain MacWhirr to express his fav- 
ourable opinion so loud or in terms so 

She was a good ship, undoubtedly, and 
not old, either. She had been built in 
Dumbarton less than three years before 
to the order of a firm of merchants in 
Siam — Messrs. Sigg & Son. When she 
lay afloat, finished in every detail and 
ready to take up the work of her life, the 
builders contemplated her with pride. 
''Sigg has asked us for a reliable skipper 
to take her out," remarked one of the 
partners; and the other, after reflecting 
for a while, said: ''I think MacWhirr is 
ashore just at present." 

"Is he? Then wire him at once. He 's 
the very man," declared the senior, with- 
out a moment's hesitation. 

Next morning, MacWhirr stood before 
them unperturbed, having travelled from 




London by the midnight express, after a 
sudden but undemonstrative parting with 
his wife. She was the daughter of a su- 
perior couple who had seen better days. 

** We had better be going together over 
the ship, Captain/' said the senior part- 
ner ; and the three men started to explore 
the perfections of the Nan-Shan from 
stem to stern and from keelson to the 
trucks of her two stumpy pole-masts. 
Captain MacWhirr had begun by taking 
ofiF his coat, which he hung on the end of 
a steam-windlass embodying all the latest 

"My uncle wrote of you favourably by 
yesterday's mail to our good friends, 
Messrs. Sigg, you know; and doubtless 
they '11 continue you out there in com- 
mand," said the junior. "You '11 be able 
to boast of being in charge of the handiest 
boat of her size on the coast of China, 
Captain," he added. 

"Have you? Thank 'ee," mumbled 
vaguely MacWhirr, to whom the view of 


12 Typhoon 

a distant eventuality could appeal no more 
than the beauty of a wide landscape to a 
purblind tourist ; and his eyes happening 
at the moment to be at rest upon the lock 
of the cabin door, he walked up to it, full 
of purpose, and began to rattle the handle 
vigorously, while he observed in his low 
earnest voice: **You can't trust the work- 
men nowadays. A brand new lock, and it 
won't act at all. Stuck fast. See? See? " 

As soon as they found themselves alone 
in their office across the yard: '*You 
praised that fellow up to Sigg. What is 
it you see in him?" asked the nephew, 
with faint contempt. 

"I admit he has nothing of your fancy 
skipper about him, if that's what you 
mean," said the elder man, curtly. "Is 
the foreman of the joiners on the Nan- 
Shan outside? — Come in. Bates. How is 
it that you let Tait's people put us off 
with a defective lock on the cabin door? 

The Captain could see directly he set eye 
on it. Have it replaced at once. The 

Typhoon 13 

little straws. Bates; the little straws.** 
The lock was replaced accordingly, and a 
few days afterwards the Nan^Shan 
steamed out to the East without Mac- 
Whirr having offered any further remark 
as to her fittings, or having been heard to 
utter a single word hinting at pride in his 
ship, gratitude for his appointment, or 
satisfaction at his prospects. 

With a temperament neither loquacious 
nor taciturn, he found very little occasion 
to talk. There were matters of duty, of 
course, — directions, orders, and so on, but 
the past being to his mind done with, and 
the future not there yet, the more general 
actualities of the day required no com- 
ment, because facts can speak for them* 
selves with overwhelming precision. / 

Old Mr. Sigg liked a man of few words, 
and one that "you could be sure would 
not try to improve upon his instructions." 
MacWhirr, satisfying these requirements, 
was continued in command of the Nan- 
Shan^ and applied himself to the carefuJ 

14 Typhoon 

navigation of his ship in the China sea& 
She had come out on a British register, 
but, after some time, Messrs. Sigg judged 
it expedient to transfer her to the Siamese 

At the news of the contemplated trans- 
fer, Jukes grew restless, as if under a sense 
of personal affront. He went about grum- 
bling to himself and uttering short, scorn- 
ful laughs. "Fancy having a ridiculous 
Noah's-ark elephant in the ensign of one's 
ship," he said once at the engine-room 
door. "Dash me if I can stand it. I '11 
throw up the billet. Don't it makej^ou 
sick, Mr. Rout?" The chief-engineer 
only cleared his throat with the air of a 
man who knows the value of a good billet. 

The first morning the new nag floated 
over the stem of the Nan-SAan, Jukes 
stood looking at it bitterly from the 
bridge. He struggled with his feelings 
for a while, and then remarked: "Queer 
flag for a man to sail under, sir." 

"What 's tjxe matter with the flag? " in- 

Typhoon 15 

quired Captain Mac Whirr. "Seems all 
right to me." And he walked across to 
the end of the bridge to have a good look. 

**Well, it is queer to me," burst out 
Jukes, greatly exasperated, and flung off 
the bridge. 

Captain Mac Whirr was amazed at these 
manners. After a while he stepped 
quietly into the chart-room and opened 
his International Signal Code-Book at the 
place where the flags of all the nations are 
correctly figured in gaudy rows. He ran 
his finger over them, and when he came 
to Siam he contemplated with great at- 
tention the red field and the white ele- 
phant. Nothing could be more simple; 
but to make sure he brought the book out 
on the bridge for the purpose of compar- 
ing the coloured drawing with the real 
thing at the flagstaff astern. When next 
Jukes, who was carrying on the duty that 
day with a sort of suppressed fierceness, 
happened on the bridge his commander 
observed : 

i6 Typhoon 

''There 's nothing amiss with that flag. " 

"Is n't there?" mumbled Jukes, falling 
on his knees before a deck-locker and 
jerking therefrom viciously a spare lead- 

'*No. I looked up the book. Length 
twice the breadth and the elephant ex- 
actly in ther middle. I thought the peo- 
ple ashore would know how to make the 
local flag. Stands to reason. You were 
wrong, Jukes." 

**Well, sir," began Jukes, getting up 
excitedly, **all I can say — " He fumbled 
for the end of the coil of line with trem- 
bling hands. 

"That 's all right." Captain Mac- 
Whirr soothed him, sitting heavily on 
a little canvas folding stool he greatly 
affected. "All you have to do is to take 
care they don't hoist the elephant upside 
down before they get quite used to it." 

Jukes flung the new lead-line over on 
the fore-deck with a loud "Here you 
are, bo'sn. Don't forget to wet it 





Typhoon 1 7 

thoroughly/' and turned with immense 
resolution towards his commander, but 
Captain Mac Whirr spread his elbows on 
the bridge-rail comfortably. 

"Because it would be, I suppose, un- 
derstood as a signal of distress/' he went 
on. "What do you think? That elephant 
there, I take it, stands for something in 
the nature of the Union- Jack in the flag.*' 

"Does it?" yelled Jukes so that every 
head on the Nan-ShatCs decks looked to- 
wards the bridge. Then he sighed, and 
with sudden resignation, "It would cer- 
tainly be a damn distressful sight," he 
said meekly. % 

Later in the day he accosted the chief 
engineer with a confidential "Here ! Let 
me tell you the old man's latest." 

Mr. Solomon Rout (frequently alluded 
to as Long Sol, Old Sol, or Father Rout), 
from finding himself almost invariably the 
tallest man on board every ship he joined, 
had acquired the habit of a stooping, leis- 
urely condescension. His hair was scant 

1 8 Typhoon 

and sandy, his flat cheeks were pale, his 
bony wrists and long scholarly hands were 
pale, too, as though he had lived all his 
life in the shade. 

He smiled from on high at Jukes and 
went on smoking and glancing about 
quietly, in the manner of a kind uncle 
lending an ear to the tale of an excited 
schoolboy. Then, greatly amused but im- 
passive, he asked : 

"And did you throw up the billet? " 
"No," cried Jukes, in a weary, dis- 
couraged voice, above the harsh buzz of 
the Nan-Shan's friction winches. All of 
them were hard at work, snatching slings 
of cargo, high up, to the end of long der- 
ricks, only, as it seemed, to let them rip 
down recklessly by the run. The cargo 
chains groaned in the gins, clinked on 
coamings, rattled over the side ; and the 
whole ship quivered, with her long grey 
flanks smoking in wreaths of steam. 
"No," cried Jukes; "I did n't. What 's 
the good? I might just as well flinq my 


Typhoon 19 

resignation at this bulkhead. I don't be- 
lieve you can make a man like that under- 
stand anything. He simply knocks me 

At that moment, Captain MacWhirr, 
back from the shore, crossed the deck, 
umbrella in hand, escorted by a mourn- 
ful, self-possessed Chinaman, walking be- 
hind in paper-soled silk shoes, who also 
carried an umbrella. 

The master of the Nan-Shan^ speaking 
just audibly and gazing at his boots as his 
manner was, remarked that it would be 
necessary to call at Fu-chau this trip, and 
desired Mr. Rout to have steam up to- 
morrow afternoon at one o'clock, sharp. 
He pushed back his hat to wipe his fore- 
head, observing at the same time that he 
hated going ashore, anyhow ; while over- 
topping him, Mr. Rout, without deigning 
a word, smoked austerely, nursing his 
right elbow in the palm of his left hand. 
Then Jukes was directed in the same sub- 
dued voice to keep the forward 'tween- 

20 Typhoon 

deck clear of cargo. Two hundred coolies 
were going to be put down there. The 
Bun Hin Company were sending that lot 
home. Twenty-five bags of rice would be 
coming off in a sampan directly for stores. 
All seven-years* men they were, said Cap- 
tain Mac Whirr, with a chest to every man. 
The carpenter should be set to work nail- 
ing three-inch battens along the deck be- 
low, fore and aft, to keep these boxes 
from shifting in a seaway. Jukes had 
better look to it at once. **D' ye hear, 
Jukes?*' This Chinaman here was com- 
ing with the ship as far as Fu-chau — a 
sort of interpreter he would be. Bun 
Hin's clerk he was, and wanted to have a 
look at the space. Jukes had better take 
him forward. "D* ye hear, Jukes?" 

Jukes took good care to punctuate 
these instructions ia proper places with 
the obligatory "Yes, sir,'* ejaculated with- 
out enthusiasm. His brusque "Come 
^long, John. Make look see/' set the 
* Chinaman in motion at his heels. 

Typhoon 21 

*'Wanchee look see, all same look see 
can do/' said Jukes, who, having no tal- 
ent for foreign languages, mangled the 
very pigeon English cruelly. He pointed 
at the open hatch. ''Catchee number 
one piecie place to sleep in. Eh? " 

He was gruff, as became his racial su- 
periority, but not unfriendly. The China- 
man, gazing sad and speechless into the 
darkness of the hatchway, seemed to stand 
at the head of a yawning grave. 

"No catchee rain down there — savee? " 
pointed out Jukes. ''Suppose allee same 
fine weather, one piecie coolie-man come 
topside," he pursued, warming up imagin- 
atively. "Make so — phooooo!" He 
expanded his chest and blew out his 
cheeks. "Savee, John? Breathe — fresh 
air. Good. Eh? Washee him piecie 
pants, chow-chow topside see, John?" 

With his mouth and hands he made 
exuberant motions of eating rice and 
washing clothes, and the Chinaman, who 
concealed his distrust of this pantomime 

22 Typhoon 

under a collected demeanour, tinged by a 
gentle and refined melancholy, glanced 
out of his almond eyes from Jukes to the 
hatch and back again. " Velly good/' he 
murmured, in a disconsolate undertone, 
and, hastening smoothly along the decks, 
dodging obstacles in his course, he disap- 
peared, ducking low under a sling of ten 
dirty gunny-bags full of some costly mer- 
chandise and exhaling a repulsive smelL 


CAPTAIN MacWHIRR meantime 
had gone on the bridge and into 
the chart-room, where a letter, com- 
menced two days before, awaited termina- 
tion. These long letters began with the 
words, "My darling wife," and the stew- 
ard, between the scrubbing of the floors 
and the dusting of chronometer-boxes, 
snatched at every opportunity to read 
them. They interested him much more 
than they possibly could the woman for 
whose eye they were intended; and for 
this reason, that they related in minute 
detail each successive trip of the Nan* 

Her master, faithful to facts, which 
alone his consciousness reflected, would 
set them down with painstaking care upon 
many pages. The house, in a Northern 


24 Typhoon 

suburb, to which these pages were ad- 
dressed, had a bit of garden before the 
bow-windowsy a deep porch of good ap- 
pearance, coloured glass with imitation 
lead frame in the front door. He paid 
five-and-forty pounds a year for it, and 
did not think the rent too high, because 
Mrs. Mac Whirr, a pretentious person with 
a scraggy neck and a disdainful manner, 
was admittedly ladylike, and in the neigh- 
bourhood considered ^s ''quite superior.'* 
The only secret of her life was her abject 
terror of the time when her husband 
would come home to stay for good. 
Under the same roof there dwelt also a 
daughter called Lydia, and a son, Tom. 
These two were but slightly acquainted 
with their father. Mainly, they knew 
him as a rare but privileged visitor, who 
of an evening smoked his pipe in the din- 
ing-room and slept in the house. The 
lanky girl, upon the whole, was rather 
ashamed of him; the boy was frankly 
and utterly indifferent, in a straightfor* 


Typhoon 25 

ward, delightful, unaffected way manly 
boys have. 

And Captain MacWhirr wrote home 
from the coast of China twelve times 
every year, desiring queerly to be ''re- 
membered to the children,'' and subscrib- 
ing himself "Your loving husband" as 
calmly as if the words so long used by sa 
many men were, apart from their shape, 
worn out things of a faded meaning. 

The China seas. North and South, 
are narrow seas. They are seas full of 
every-day, eloquent facts, such as islands, 
sand-banks, reefs, swift and changeable 
currents — tangled facts that nevertheless 
speak to a seaman in clear and definite 
language. Their speech appealed to 
Captain MacWhirr's sense of realities so 
forcibly that he had given up his state- 
room below and practically lived all his 
days on the bridge of his ship, often hav- 
ing his meals sent up, and sleeping at 
night in the chart-room. And he indited 
there his home letters. Each of them 

26 Typhoon 

without exception, contained the phrase, 
•'The weather has been very fine this 
trip/' or some other form of a statement 
to that effect. And this statement, too, 
in its wonderful persistence, was of the 
same perfect accuracy as all the others 
they contained. 

Mr. Rout likewise wrote letters, only 
no one on board knew how chatty he 
could be, pen in hand, because the chief- 
engineer had enough imagination to keep 
his desk locked.- His wife relished his 
style greatly. They were a childless 
couple, and Mrs. Rout — a big, high- 
bosomed, jolly woman of forty, — shared 
with Mr. Rout's toothless and venerable 
mother a little cottage near Teddington. 
She would run over her correspondence at 
breakfast with lively eyes, and scream out 
interesting passages in a joyous voice at 
the deaf old lady, prefacing each extract 
by the warning shout, "Solomon says!" 
She had the trick of firing off Solomon's 
utterances also upon strangers, astonish- 

Typhoon 27 

ing them easily by the unfamiliar text and 
the unexpectedly jocular vein of these 
quotations. On the day the new curate 
called for the first time at the cottage, she 
found occasion to remark, "As Solomon 
says, the engineers that go down to the 
sea in ships behold the wonders of sailor 
nature"; when a change in the visitor's 
countenance made her stop and stare. 

"Solomon! Oh!— Mrs. Rout!" stut- 
tered the young man, startled, shocked, 
and red in the face. "I must say — I 
don't •' 

"He 's my husband," she announced in 
a great shout, throwing herself back in 
the chair. Perceiving the joke, she 
laughed immoderately with a handker- 
chief to her eyos, while he sat wearing a 
forced smile and, from his inexperience 
of jolly women, was persuaded that she 
must be deplorably insane. They were 
excellent friends afterwards; for, absolv- 
ing her from irreverent intention, he came 
to think she was a very worthy person 

28 Typhoon 

indeed ; and he learned in time to receive 
without flinching other scraps of Solo- 
mon's wisdom. 

"For my part," Solomon was reported 
by his wife to have said once» "give me 
the dullest ass for a skipper before a rogue. 
There is a way to take a fool, but a rogue 
is smart and slippery." This was an airy 
generalisation drawn from the particular 
case of Captain MacWhirr's honesty, 
which, in itself, had the heavy obvious- 
ness of a lump of clay. On the other 
hand, Mr. Jukes, unable to generalise, 
unmarried, and unengaged, was in the 
habit of opening his heart after another 
fashion to an old chum and former ship* 
mate, actually serving as second officer on 
board an Atlantic liner. 

First of all, he would insist upon the 
advantages of the Eastern trade, hinting 
at its superiority to the Western ocean 
service. He extolled the sky, the seas^ 
the ships, and the easy life of the Far 
East. The Nan-Shan^ he affirmed, waff 

Typhoon 29 

second to none as a sea-boat. "We have 
no brass-bound uniforms, but then we are 
like brothers here," he wrote. " We all 
mess together and live like fighting cocks. 
. . . All the chaps of the black-squad 
are as decent as they make that kind, and 
old Sol, the chief, is a dry stick. We are 
good friends. As to our old man, you 
could not find a quieter skipper. Some^ 
times you would think he had n't sense 
enough to see anything wrong. And yet 
it is n't that. Can't be. He has been in 
command for a good few years now. He 
does n't do anything actually foolish, and 
gets his ship along all right without wor- 
rying anybody. I believe he has n't 
brains enough to enjoy kicking up a row. 
I don't take advantage of him. I would 
scorn it. Outside the routine of duty he 
does n't seem to understand more than 
half of what you tell him. We get a 
laugh out of this at times, but it is dull, 
too, to be with a man like this — in the 
long run. Old Sol says he has n't much 

30 Typhoon 

conversation. Conversation! Oh, Lordl 
He never talks. The other day I had 
been yarning under the bridge with one of 
the engineers, and he must have heard us. 
When I came up to take my watch he 
steps out of the chart-room and has a 
good look all round, peeps over at the 
sidelights, glances at the compass, squints 
upwards at the stars. That 's his regular 
performance. By-and-bye he says : 'Was 
that you talking just now in the port 
alley- way? * — *Yes, sir.' — 'With the third 
engineer?' — 'Yes, sir.* He walks off to 
starboard and sits under the dodger on a 
little campstool of his and for half an 
hour, perhaps, he makes no sound except 
that I heard him sneeze once. Then 
after a while I hear him getting up over 
there and he strolls across to port where 
I was. 'I can't understand what you can 
find to talk about,' says he. 'Two solid 
hours. I am not blaming you. I see 
people ashore at it all day long, and then 
in the evening they sit down and keep at 

Typhoon 3' 

it over the drinks. Must be saying the 
same things over and over again. I can't 
understand. ' Did you ever hear anything 
like that? And he was so patient about 
it ! It made me quite sorry for him. But 
he is exasperating, too, sometimes. Of 
course, one would not do anything to vex 
him even if it were worth while. But it 
is n't. He 's so jolly dense that if you 
were to put your thumb to your nose and 
wave your fingers at him, he would only 
wonder gravely to himself what got into 
you. He told me once quite simply that 
he found it very difficult to make out 
what made people always act so queerly. 
He 's too dense to trouble about and 
that's the truth." 

Thus wrote Mr. Jukes to his chum in 
the Western ocean trade, out of the ful- 
ness of his heart and the liveliness of his 

He had expressed his honest opinion. 
It was not worth while trying to im- 
press a man like that. If the world had 

3^ Typhoon 

been full of such men life would have 
probably appeared to Jukes an unenter* 
taining and unprofitable business. He 
was not alone in his opinion. The sea 
itself, as if sharing Mr. Jukes's good-nat- 
ured forbearance, had never put itself out 
to startle the silent man who seldom 
looked up and wandered innocently over 
the waters with the only visible purpose 
of getting food, raiment, and house-room 
for three people ashore. Dirty weather 
he had known, of course. He had been 
made wet, uncomfortable, tired in the 
usual way, — felt at the time and presently 
forgotten. So that upon the whole he 
had been justified in reporting fine 
weather at home. But he had never been 
given a glimpse of immeasurable strength 
and of immoderate wrath, the wrath that 
passes exhausted but never appeased — the 
wrath and fury of the passionate sea. He 
knew it existed, as we know that crime 
and '^i^ominations exist ; he had heard of 
it as a peaceable citizen in a town hears 

Typhoon 33 

of battles, famines, and floods, and yet 
knows nothing of what these things mean, 
though, indeed, he may have been mixed 
up in a street row, have gone without his 
dinner once, or been soaked to the skin in 
a sl^ower. He sailed over the surface of 
the oceans as some men go skimming 
over the years of existence and sink at last 
into a placid grave, ignorant of life to the 
last, without ever having been made to 
see all it contains of perfidy, violence, 
and terror. There are on sea and land 
such men, thus fortunate, or thus dis- 
dained by destiny or by the sea. 


OBSERVING the steady fall of the 
barometer, Captain MacWhirr 
thought, "There's some dirty weather 
knocking about." This is precisely what 
he thought. He had had an experience 
of moderately dirty weather, the term 
dirty, as applied to the weather in itself, 
implying only moderate discomfort to the 
seaman. Had he been informed by an 
indisputable authority that the end of the 
world was to be finally accomplished by 
a catastrophic disturbance of the atmo- 
sphere, he would have assimilated the in< 
formation under the simple idea of dirty 
weather, and no other, because he had no 
experience of cataclysms and belief does 
not necessarily imply comprehension. 
The wisdom of his country had pro- 
nounced by means of an Act of Parlia- 


Typhoon 35 

ment that before he could be Considered 
as fit to take charge of a ship he should 
be able to answer certain simple questions 
i>n the subject of circular storms, such as 
hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, — and ap- 
parently he had answered them, since he 
was now in command of the Nan^Shan 
in the China seas during the season of 
typhoons. But if he had answered, he 
remembered nothing of it. He was, how- 
ever, conscious of being made uncomfort- 
able by the clammy heat. He came out 
on the bridge and found no relief to this 
oppression. The air seemed thick. He 
gasped like a fish and began to believe 
himself greatly out of sorts. 

The Nan-Shan was ploughing a vanish- 
ing furrow upon the circle of the sea that 
had a surface like a piece of grey satin ; 
and under this surface slow undulations 
passed, unbroken and smooth, swinging 
the ship bodily up and down at regular 
intervals. The white patch of mist de* 
clined down the sky together with the 

3^ Typhoon 

sun whichy pale and without rays, poured 
a leaden heat in a strangely indecisive 
light, and the Chinamen were lying pros- 
trate about the decks. Their bloodless, 
pinched yellow faces were like the faces 
of bilious invalids. Captain MacWhirr 
noticed two of them especially, stretched 
out on their backs below the bridge. As 
soon as they had closed their eyes they 
seemed dead. Three others, however, 
were quarrelling barbarously away for- 
ward, and one big fellow, half naked, 
with herculean shoulders, was hanging 
limply over a winch ; while another, sitting 
on the deck, his knees up and his head 
drooping sideways in a girlish attitude, 
was plaiting his tail with infinite languor 
depicted in his whole person and in the 
very movement of his fingers. The 
smoke struggled with difficulty out of 
the funnel, and instead of streaming away 
spread out like an infernal sort of cloud> 
smelling of sulphur and raining soot on 
the decks. 



Typhoon 37 

*'What the devil are you doing there, 
Mr. Jukes?" asked Captain Mac Whirr. 

This unusual form of address, though 
mumbled rather than spoken, caused the 
body of Mr. Jukes to start as though it 
had been prodded under the fifth rib. He 
had had a low bench brought on the 
bridge, and, sitting on it with a length of 
rope curled about his feet and a piece of 
canvas stretched over his knees, was push- 
ing a sail-needle vigorously. He looked 
up, and his surprise gave to his eyes an 
expression of innocence and candour. 

"I am only roping some of that new set 

of bags we made last trip for whipping up 

coals," he remonstrated gently. **We 

shall want them for the next coaling, sir." 

'* What became of the others?" 

"Why! Worn out, of course, sir." 

Captain Mac Whirr, after glaring down 

irresolutely at his chief mate, disclosed 

the gloomy and cynical conviction that 

more than half of them had been lost 

overboard," if only the truth was known," 

38 Typhoon 

and retired to the other end of the bridge. 
Jukes, exasperated by this unprovoked 
attack, broke the needle at the second 
stitch; and, dropping his work, got up 
and cursed the heat in a violent under- 

The propeller thumped, the three China- 
men forward had given up squabbling 
very suddenly, and the one who had 
been plaiting his tail clasped his legs and 
stared dejectedly over his knees. The 
lurid sunshine cast faint and sickly shad- 
ows. The swell ran higher and swifter 
every moment, and the ship lurched 
heavily in the smooth, deep hollows of 
the sea. 

**I wonder where that beastly swell 
comes from," said Jukes aloud, recover- 
ing himself after a stagger. 

"Northeast," grunted the literal Mac- 
Whirr, from his side of the bridge. 
"There's some dirty weather knocking 
about. Go and look at the glass." 

When Jukes came out of the chart-room 

Typhoon 39 

the cast of his countenance had changed to 
thought fulness and concern. He caught 
hold of the bridge-rail and stared ahead. 
The temperature in the engine-room 
had gone up to no degrees. Irritated 
voices were ascending through the sky<^ 
light and through the fiddle of the stoke- 
hole. They made a harsh and resonant 
uproar, mingled with angry clangs and 
scrapes of metal, as if men with limbs of 
iron and throats of bronze had been quar- 
relling down there. The second engineer 
was falling foul of the stokers for letting 
the steam go down. He was a man with 
arms like a blacksmith and generally 
feared, but that afternoon the stokers 
were answering him back recklessly and 
slammed the furnace doors with the fury 
of despair. Then the noise ceased sud- 
denly and the second engineer appeared, 
emerging out of the stoke-hole, streaked 
with grime and soaking wet, like a chim- 
ney-sweep coming out of a well. As 
soon as his head was clear of the fiddle he 

40 Typhoon 

began upbraiding Jukes for not trimming 
properly the stoke-hole ventilators, and in 
answer Jukes made with his hands depre- 
catory, soothing signs, meaning : no wind 
— can't be helped — you can see for your- 
self. But the other would n't hear reason. 
His teeth flashed angrily in his dirty face, 
and he cursed like a madman. He did n't 
mind, he said, the trouble of punching 
their blanked heads down there, blank his 
soul, but did the condemned sailors think 
you could keep steam up in the God-for- 
saken boilers simply by knocking the 
blanked stokers about? No, by George! 
You had to get some draught, too — may 
he be everlastingly blanked for a swab- 
headed deck-hand, if you didn't! And 
the chief, too, rampaging before the 
steam-gauge and carrying on like a lunatic 
all over the engine-room ever since noon. 
What did Jukes think he was stuck up 
there for, if he could n't get one of his 
decayed, good-for-nothing, deck-cripples 
to turn the ventilators to the windf 

Typhoon 41 

The relations of the "engine-room " 
and the "deck " of the Nan-Shan were, as 
is known, of a brotherly nature ; therefore 
Jukes leaned over and begged the other in 
a restrained tone not to make a disgusting 
ass of himself — the skipper was on the 
other side of the bridge. But the seconH 
declared mutinously that he did n't care 
who was on the other side of the bridge, 
and Jukes, passing in a flash from lofty 
disapproval into a state of exaltation, in- 
vited him in unflattering terms to come 
up and twist the beastly things to please 
himself, and to catch such wind as a don- 
key of his sort could find. The second 
rushed up to the fray. He flung himself 
at the port ventilator as though he meant 
to tear it out bodily and toss it overboard. 
All he did was to move round the cowl a 
few inches, with an enormous expenditure 
of force, and seemed spent in the 
effort. He leaned against the back of 
the wheel-house, and Jukes walked up to 

42 Typhoon 

"Oh, heavens!" ejaculated the engi- 
neer in a feeble voice. He lifted his eyes 
to the sky and then let his glassy stare de- 
scend to meet the horizon that, tilting up 
to an angle of forty degrees, seemed to 
hang on a slant for awhile and settle 
down slowly. "Heavens! Phew! What's 
up, anyhow?" 

Jukes, straddling his long legs like a 
pair of compasses, put on an air of su- 
periority. "We're going to catch it this 
time," he said. "The barometer is 
tumbling down like anything, Harry. 
And you trying to kick up that silly row. ' ' 

It seemed as though the word "barom- 
eter" had revived the second engineer's 
mad animosity. Collecting afresh all his 
energies he directed Jukes in a low and 
brutal tone to shove the unmentionable 
instrument down his gory throat. Who 
cared for his crimson barometer? It was 
the steam — the steam — that was going 
down; and what between the firemen 
going faint and the chief going silly, it 


Typhoon 43 

was worse than axlog's life for him; and 
\ie did n't care a tinker's curse how soon 
the whole show was blown out of the 
water. He seemed on the point of hav- 
ing a cry, but, after regaining his breath, 
he muttered darkly, "I '11 faint them,'* 
and dashed off. He stopped upon tha 
fiddle long enough to shake his fist at 
the unnatural daylight and dropped into 
the dark hole with a whoop. 

WHEN Jukes turned round, his eyes 
fell upon the rounded back and 
the big red ears of Captain MacWhirr, 
who had come across. He did not look 
at his chief ofHcer, but said at once : 

"That 's a very violent man, that sec- 
ond engineer." 

"Jolly good second, anyhow," grunted 
Jukes. "They can't keep up steam," he 
added rapidly, and made a grab at the rail 
against the coming lurch. 

Captain Mac Whirr, unprepared, took a 
run and brought himself up with a jerk by 
an awning stanchion. 

"A profane man," he said obstinately. 
"If this goes on I'll have to get rid of 
him the iirst chance." 

"It's the heat," said Jukes. "The 
weather 's awful. It would make a saint 


T)rphoon 45 

swear. Even up here I feel exactly as if 
I had my head tied up in a woollen 

Captain Mac Whirr looked up. 

*'D!ye mean to say, Mr. Jukes, you 
ever had your head tied up in a blanket? 
What was that for? " 

"It's a manner of speaking, sir/' said 
Jukes, stolidly. 

"Some of you fellows do go on! 
What 's that about saints swearing? I 
wish you would n't talk so wild. What 
sort of saint would that be that would 
swear? No more saint than yourself, I 
expect. And what 's a blanket got to do 
with it — or the weather either? The heat 
does not make me swear — does it? It *s 
filthy bad temper. That's what it is. 
And what 's the good of you talking like 
this? ..." 

Thus Captain MacWhirr expostulated 
against the use of images in speech, and 
at the end electrified Jukes by a contemp- 
tuous snort followed by words of passion 


46 Typhoon 

and resentment. ' ' Damme ! I 'U fire him 
out of the ship if he don't look out." 

And Jukes, incorrigible, thought: 

"Goodness me! Somebody's put a 
new inside to my old man. Here 's tem- 
per, if you like. Of course it 's the 
weather; what else? It would make an 
angel quarrelsome — let alone a saint." 

All the Chinamen on deck appeared at 
their last gasp. 

At its setting the sun had a diminished 
diameter and an expiring brown, rayless 
glow, as if millions of centuries elapsing 
since the morning had brought it near its 
end. A dense bank of cloud became visi- 
ble to the northward: it had a sinister 
dark olive tint, and lay low and motion- 
less upon the sea, resembling a solid ob- 
stacle in the path of the ship. She went 
floundering towards it like an exhausted 
creature driven to its death. The coppery 
twilight retired slowly, and the darkness 
brought out overhead a swarm of un- 
steady big stars that, as if blown upon, 

Typhoon 47 

flickered exceedingly and seemed to hang 
very near the earth. At eight o'clock 
Jukes went into the chart-room to write 
up the ship's log. 

He copied neatly out of the rough-book 
the number of miles, the course of the 
ship, and in the column for "Wind" he 
scrawled the word **Calm" from top to 
bottom of the eight hours since noon. He 
was exasperated by the continuous, mo- 
notonous rolling of the ship. - The heavy 
inkstand would slide away in a manner 
that suggested perverse intelligence in 
dodging the pen. / Having written in the 
large space under the head of ** Remarks," 
"Heat very oppressive," he stuck the end 
of the penholder in his teeth, pipe-fashion, 
and mopped his face carefully. 

"Ship rolling heavily in a high cross- 
swell," he began again, and commented 
to himself, " 'Heavily* is no word for it." 
Then he wrote : * * Sunset threatening, with 
a low bank of clouds to N. and E. Sky 
clear overhead." 

48 Typhoon 

Sprawling over the table with arrested 
pen he glanced out of the door, and in 
that frame of his vision he saw all the 
stars flying upwards between the teak- 
wood jambs on a black sky. The whole 
lot took flight together and disappeared, 
leaving only a blackness flecked with 
white flashes, for the sea was as black as 
the sky and speckled with foam afar. The 
stars had flown to the roll and came back 
on the return swing of the ship, rushing 
downwards in a swarming glitter not of 
fiery points but enlarged to tiny discs, bril- 
liant with a clear, wet sheen. 

He watched the flying big stars for a 
moment, and then wrote: "8 p.m. Swell 
increasing. Ship labouring and taking 
water on her decks. Battened down the 
coolies for the night. Barometer still 
falling. " He paused and thought to him- 
self, "Perhaps nothing whatever *11 come 
of it." And then he closed resolutely his 
entries: ** Every appearance of a typhoon 
coming on." 


Typhoon 49 

On going out he had to stand aside, 
and Captain* MacWhirr strode over the 
doorstep without saying a word or mak- 
ing a sign. 

''Shut the door, Mr. Jukes, will you?'.* 
he cried from within. 

Jukes turned back to do so, muttering 
ironically, "Afraid to catch cold, I sup- 
pose." It was his watch below, but he 
yearned for communion with his kind ; and 
he remarked cheerily to the second mate : 
"Does n't look so bad, after all, does it? " 

The second mate was marching to and 
fro on the bridge, tripping down with 
small steps one moment, and the next 
climbing with difficulty the shifting slope 
of the deck. At the sound of Jukes's 
voice he stood still, facing forward, but 
made no answer. 

"Hallo! That's a heavy one," said 
Jukes, swaying to meet the long roll till 
his lowered hand touched the planks. 
This time the second mate made in hid 
throat a noise of an unfriendly nature. 


50 Typhoon 

He was an oldish, shabby little fellow, 
with bad teeth and no hair on his face. 
He had been shipped in a hurry in 
Shanghai that ,trip when the second offi- 
cer brought from home had delayed the 
ship three hours in port by contriving (in 
some manner Captain MacWhirr could 
never understand) to fall overboard into 
an empty coal-lighter alongside ; and had 
to be sent ashore to the hospital with con- 
cussion of the brain and a broken limb or 



JUKES was not discouraged by the 
unsympathetic sound. "The China- 
men must be having a lovely time of it 
down there," he said. "It's lucky for 
them the old girl has the easiest roll of 
any ship I *ve ever been in. There, now. 
This one was n't so bad." 

* * You wait, * ' snarled the second mate. 
With his sharp nose, red at the tip, and 
his thin, pinched lips, he always looked as 
though he were raging inwardly, and he 
was concise in his speech to the point of 
rudeness. All his time off duty he spent 
in his cabin with the door shut, and keep- 
ing so still in there that he was supposed 
to fall asleep as soon as he had disap- 
.peared; but the man who came in to 
wake him for his watch on deck would in- 
variably find him with his eyes wide 


$2 Typhoon 

open, flat on his back in the bunk, and 
glaring irritably from a soiled pillow. He 
never wrote any letters, did not seem to 
hope for news from any where, and though 
he had been heard once to mention West 
Hartlepool, it was with extreme bitter- 
ness and only in connection with the 
charges in a boarding-house. He was one 
of those men who are picked up by ships 
in the ports of the world. They are com- 
petent enough, appear hopelessly hard 
up, show no evidence of any sort of vice, 
and carry about them all the signs of 
manifest failure. They come aboard on 
an emergency, care for no ship afloat, 
live in their own atmosphere of casual 
connection amongst their shipmates, who 
know nothing of them, and make up their 
minds to leave at inconvenient times. 
They clear out, with no words of leave- 
taking, in some God- forsaken port that 
other men would fear to be stranded in, 
and go ashore in company with a shabby 
sea-chest corded like a treasure-box, and 

Typhoon 53 

with an air of shaking the ship's dust off 
their feet. 

"You wait/' he repeated, balancing in 
great swings with his back to Jukes, mo- 
tionless and implacable. 

"Do you mean to say we are going to 
catch it hot? *' asked Jukes, with boyish 

' ' Say ? I say nothing. You don ' t catch 
me! " snapped the little second mate with 
a mixture of pride, scorn, and cunning, as 
if Jukes*s question had been a trap clev- 
erly detected. "Oh, no! None of you 
here shall make a fool of me if I know 
it," he mumbled to himself. 

Jukes reflected rapidly that this second 
mate was a mean little beast, and in his 
heart he wished poor Jack Allen had 
never smashed himself up in the coal- 
lighter. The far-off blackness ahead of 
the ship was like another night seen 
through the starry night of the earth — a 
blackness without stars — the night of the | 

immensities beyond the created universe 

54 Typhoon 

revealed in its appalling stillness through 
a low fissure in the glittering sphere of 
which the earth is the kernel. 

"Whatever there might be about," 
said Jukes, "we are steaming straight into 

" You 've said it," caught up the second 
mate, always with his back to Juke^. 
"You 've said it-mind. Not I." 

"Oh, go to Jericho!" said Jukes, 
frankly ; and the other emitted a trium- 
phant little chuckle. "You 've said it," 
he repeated. 

"And what of that?" 

"I 've known some real good men get 
into trouble with their skippers for saying 
a dam' sight less," answered the second 
mate feverishly. "Oh, no! You don't 
catch me." 

"You seem deucedly anxious not 
to give yourself away," said Jukes, 
completely soured by such absurdity. 
"I would n't be afraid to say what I 

Typhoon 55 

"Aye, to me! That 's no great trick. 
I am nobody, and well I know it." 

The ship, after a pause of comparative 
steadiness, started upon a series of rolls, 
one worse than the other, and for a time 
Jukes, preserving his equilibrium, was too 
busy to open his mouth. As soon as the 
violent swinging had quieted down some- 
what, he said : 

''This is a bit too much of a good 
thing. Whether anything is coming or 
not, I think she ought to be put head-on 
to that swell. The old man is just gone 
in to lie down. Hang me if I don't speak 
to him ! " 

But when he opened the door of the 
chart-room he saw his Captain reading a 
book. Captain Mac Whirr was not lying 
down : he was standing up, with one hand 
grasping the edge of the bookshelf and 
the other holding open before his face a 
thick volume. The lamp wriggled in the 
gimbals, the loosened books toppled 
from side to side on the shelf, the long 

56 Typhoon 

barometer swung in jerky circles, the 

table altered its slant every moment. In 

the midst of all this stir and movement 

Captain MacWhirr, very steady on his 

ieet and holding on, was reading in a J 




WHEN Jukes opened the door the 
Captain showed his eyes above 
the upper edge, and asked : 

•'What's the matter?" 

"Swell getting worse, sir." 

"Noticed that in here," muttered Cap- 
tain Mac Whirr. * * Anything wrohg ? ' ' 

Jukes, inwardly disconcerted by the 
seriousness of the eyes looking at him 
over the top of the book, produced an 
embarrassed grin. 

"Rolling like old boots," he said 

"Aye! Very heavy. Very heavy. 
What do you want? " 

At this Jukes lost his footing and be* 
gan to flounder. 

"I was thinking of our passengers," he 
said, in the manner of a man clutching 
at a straw. 


58 Typhoon 

"Passengers?" wondered the Captain, 
gravely. ' * What passengers ? ' ' 

* * Why ! The Chinamen, sir, ' * explained 
Jukes, very sick of this conversation. 

"The Chinamen! Why don't you 
speak plainly? Couldn't tell what you 
meant. Never heard a lot of coolies 
spoken of as passengers before. Passen- 
gers, indeed ! What 's come to you? " 

Captain Mac Whirr, closing the book on 
his forefinger, lowered his arm and looked 
completely mystified. "Why are you 
thinking of the Chinamen, Mr. Jukes?" 
he inquired. 

Jukes took a plunge like a man driven 
to it. 

* ' She 's rolling her decks full of water, 
sir. Thought you might put her head-on 
perhaps — for a while. Till this goes down 
a bit-^very soon. Head to the eastward. 
I never knew a ship roll like this." 

He held on in the doorway, and Cap- 
tain MacWhirr, feeling his grip on the 
shelf inadequate, made up his mind to 

Typhoon 59 

let go in a hurry and fell heavily on the 

**Head to the eastward," he said, 
struggling to sit up, "That 's more than 
four points off her course," 

**Yes, sir. Fifty degrees . 
would just bring her head far enough 
round to meet this. . . ." 

Captain MacWhirr was now sitting up. 
He had not dropped the book and he had 
not lost his place. 

**To the eastward," he repeated, with 
dawning astonishment. "To the , . . 
Where do you think we are bound to? 
You want me to haul a full-powered 
steamship four points off her course to 
make the Chinamen comfortable! Now 
I 've heard more than enough of mad 
things done in the world — but this. • . . 
If I did n't know you, Jukes, I would 
think you were in liquor. Steer four 
points off . . . and what afterwards? 
Steer four points over the other way, I 
suppose, to make the course good. What 

6o Typhoon 

put it into your head that I would start 
to tack a steamer as if she were a sailing 

"Jolly good thing she isn't/* threw in 
Jukes, with bitter readiness. ' ' She would 
have rolled every blessed stick out 6f her 
this afternoon.'* 

"Aye! And you just would have had 
to stand and see them go/' said Captain 
MacWhirr, showing a certain animation. 
"It 's a dead calm, is n't it? " 

"It is, sir. But there 's something out 
of the common coming for sure. ' ' 

"Maybe. I suppose you have a notion 
I should be getting out of the way of that 
dirt," said Captain Mac Whirr, speaking 
with the utmost simplicity of manner and 
tone, and fixing the oilcloth on the floor 
with a heavy stare. Thus he noticed 
neither Jukes's discomfiture nor the mix- 
ture of vexation and astonished respect 
on his face. 

"Now here 's this book," he continued 
with deliberation, slapping his thigh with 

Typhoon 6i 

the closed volume. ' I've been reading 
the chapter on the winds there." 

This was true. He had been reading 
the chapter on the winds. When he had 
entered the chart-room it was with no in- 
tention of taking the book down. Some 
influence in the air — the same influence, 
probably, that caused the steward to bring 
without orders the Captain's sea-boots 
and oilskin coat up to the chart-room — 
had, as it were, guided his hand to the 
shelf. And without condescending to sit 
down he had waded with a conscious effort 
into the terminology of the subject. He 
lost himself amongst advancing semicir- 
cles, left- and right-hand quadrants, the 
curves of the tracks, the probable bearing 
of the centre, the shifts of winds, and the 
readings of barometer. He tried to bring 
all these things into a definite relation to 
himself, and ended by becoming con- 
temptuously angry with such a lot of 
words and with so much advice that 
seemed to him all sheer headwork and 

62 Typhoon 

supposition without a glimmer of certi- 

"It's the confoundest thing, Jukes/' 
he said. "If a fellow was to believe all 
that 's in there he would be running most 
of his time all over the sea trying to get 
behind the weather." 

Again he slapped his leg with the book, 
and Jukes opened his mouth, but said 

"Running to get behind the weather! 
Do you understand that, Mr. Jukes? It 's 
the maddest thing," ejaculated Captain 
MacWhirr, with pauses, gazing at the 
floor profoundly. "You would think an 
old woman had been writing this. It 
passes me. If that thing means anything 
useful, then it means that I should at 
once alter the course away — away to 
the devil somewhere, and come booming 
down on Fu-chau from the northward at 
the tail of this dirty weather that 's sup- 
posed to be knocking about in our way. 
From the north! Do you understand, 

Typhoon 63 

Mr. Jukes? Three hundred extra miles 
to the distance, and a pretty coal bill 
to show. I could n't bring myself to 
do that if every word in there was gos- 
pel truth, Mr. Jukes. Don't you expect 
me. ... 

And Jukes, silent, marvelled at this 
display of feeling and loquacity. 

"But the truth is that you don't know 
if the fellow is right, anyhow. How can 
you tell what a gale is made of till you 
get it ? He is n't aboard here, is he ? 
Very well. Here he says that the centre 
of them things bears eight points off the 
wind. But we have n't got any wind, 
for all the barometer falling. Where 's 
his centre now?" 

"We shall get the wind presently," 
mumbled Jukes. 

"Let it come, then," said Captain Mac- 
Whirr, with dignified indignation. "It 's 
only to let you see, Mr. Jukes, that you 
don't find everything in books. All these 
rules for dpdging breezes and circumvent- 

64 Typhoon 

ing the winds of heaven, Mr. Jukes, seeoi 
to me the maddest thing, when you come 
to look at it sensibly. ' ' 

He looked up, saw Jukes gazing at 
him dubiously, and tried to illustrate his 

"About as queer as your extraordinary 
notion of dodging the ship head to sea, 
for I don*t know how long, to make the 
Chinamen cojnfortable ; while all we've 
got to do is to take them to Fu-chau, be- 
ing expected to get there before noon on 
Friday. If the weather delays me — ^very 
well. There's your log-t>ook to talk 
straight about the weather. But suppose 
I went swinging off three hundred miles 
out of my course and came in two days 
late, and they asked me : 'Where have you 
been all that time, Captain? ' What could 
I say to that? 'Went around to dodge 
the bad weather,' I would say. 'It 
must 've been dam' bad,' they would say. 
'Don't know,' I would have to say; *I Ve 
dodged clear of it.' See that. Jukes? I 

Typhoon 65 

have' been thinking it all out this after- 


He looked up again in his unseeing, 
unimaginative way. No one had ever 
heard him say so much at one time. 
Jukes, with his arms open, in the door- 
way, was like a man invited to confront a 
miracle; Unbounded wonder was the in- 
tellectual meaning of his eye, while hard 
incredulity was seated in his whole coun- 

"A gale is a gale, Mr. Jukes," resumed 
the Captain, "and a full-powered steam- 
ship has got to face it. There 's just so 
much dirty weather knocking about the 
world, and the proper thing is to go 
through it with none of what old Captain 
Wilson of the Melita calls storm -strategy. 
The other day ashore I heard him hold 
forth about it to a lot of shipmasters who 
came in and sat at a table next to mine. 
It seemed to me the greatest nonsense. 
He was telling them how he — outman- 
oeuvred, I think he said — a terrific gale. 

66 Typhoon 

so that it never came nearer than fifty 
miles to him. A neat piece of headwork, 
he called it. How he knew there was a 
gale fifty miles off beats me altogether. It 
was like listening to a crazy man. I 
would have thought Captain Wilson was 
old enough to know better." 

Captain MacWhirr ceased for a mo- 
ment, then said: "It's your watch below, 
Mr. Jukes? " Jukes came to himself with 
a start. 

"Yes, sir." 

"Leave orders to call me at the slight- 
est change,'' said the Captain. He reached 
up to put the book away and tucked his 
legs upon the couch. "Shut the door so 
that it don't fly open — will you? I can't 
stand a door banging. They 've put a lot 
of rubbishy locks in this ship — I must 


CAPTAIN MacWHIRR closed his 
eyes. He did so to rest himself. 
He was tired, and he experienced that 

e * 

state of mental vacuity which comes upon 
pne at the end of an exhaustive discussion 
that had liberated some belief matured in 
the course of meditative years. He had 
indeed been making his confession of 
faith, had he only known it. And its 
effect was to make Jukes on the other side 
of the door stand scratching his head for 
a good while. 

Captain MacWhirr opened his eyes. 

He thought he must have been asleep. 
What was that loud noise? Wind? Why 
had he not been called? The lamp wrig- 
gled in its gimbals, the barometer swung 
in circles, the table altered its slant every 
moment: a pair of limp sea-boots with 


68 Typhoon 

collapsed long tops went sliding past the 
couch. He put out his hand instantly 
and captured one. 

Juke's face appeared in a crack of the 
door, — only his face, very red, with star- 
ing eyes. The flame of the lamp leaped ; 
a piece of paper flew up; a rush of air 
struck and enveloped Captain MacWhirr. 
Beginning to draw on the boot he directed 
an expectant gaze at Jukes's swollen, ex- 
cited features. 

"Came on like this," shouted Jukes. 
"Five minutes ago • • • all of a 

The head disappeared with a bang, and 
a heavy splash and patter of drops swept 
past the closed door as if a pailful of 
melted lead had been flung against the 
house. A vhistling could be heard now 
upon the deep, vibrating noise outside. 

The stuffy chart-room seemed as full of 
draughts as a shed. Captain MacWhirr 
collared the other sea-boot on its violent 
passage along the floor. He was not 


Typhoon 69 

flustered, but he could not find at once 
the bpening for inserting his foot. The 
shoes he had flung of! were scurrying from 
end to end of the cabin, gambolling play- 
fully over each other like puppies. As 
soon as he stood up he kicked at them 
viciously, but without effect. 

He threw himself into the attitude of a 
lounging fencer to reach after his oilskin 
coat ; and afterwards he staggered all over 
the confined space while he jerked himself 
into it. Very grave, straddling his legs 
far apart, and stretching his neck, he 
started to tie deliberately the strings of 
his sou'wester under his chin, with thick 
fingers that trembled slightly. He went 
through all the movements of a woman 
putting on her bonnet before a glass, 
with a mien of strained, listening atten- 
tion, as though he expected every mo- 
ment to hear the shout of his name, 
shouted in the confused clamour that had 
suddenly beset his ship. Its increase 
filled his ears while he was getting ready 



70 Typhoon 

to go out and confront whatever it might 
mean. It was tumultuous and very loud, 
too, made up of the rush of the wind, the 
crashes of the sea, with that prolonged, 
deep vibration of the air, like the roll of 
an immense and remote drum beating the 
charge of the gale. 

He stood for a moment in the light of 
the lamp — thick, clumsy, shapeless, in 
his panoply of combat, vigilant and red- 

** There 's a lot of weight in this," he 

As soon as he attempted to open the 
door the wind caught it and he was ab« 
solutely dragged out over the doorstep ; 
clinging to the handle, he was flung 
around, and at once found himself en- 
gaged with the wind in a sort of personal 
scuffle whose object was the shutting of 
that door. At the last moment a tongue 
of air scurried in and licked out the flame 
of the lamp. 

Ahead of the ship he perceived a great 


Typhoon 7i 

darkness lying upon a multitude of white 
flashes ; on the starboard beam a few 
amazing stars drooped, dim and fitful, 
above an immense waste of broken seas, 
as if seen through a mad drift of smoke. 

On the bridge a knot of men, indistinct 
and toiling, were making great efforts in 
the light of the wheel-house windows that 
shone mistily on their heads and backs. 
Suddenly, darkness closed upon one pane, 
then on another. The voices of the lost 
group reached him after the manner of 
men's voices in a gale, in shreds and 
fragments of forlorn shouting snatched 
past the ear. All at once Jukes ap- 
peared at his side, yelling, with his head 

** Watch — put in — wheel-house shutters 
— glass — afraid — blow in." 

Jukes heard his commander upbraiding. 

' * This — come — anything — warning — 
call me." 

He tried to explain with the uproar 
pressing on his lips r 

72 Typhoon 

*' Light air — remained — bridge — sud- 
den — northeast— could turn — thought-^ 
you — sure — hear. " 

They had gained the shelter of the 
weather-cloth and could converse with 
raised voices as people quarrel. 

"I got the hands to cover up all the 
ventilators. Good job I had remained on 
deck. I did n*t think you would be 
asleep, and so . . . What did you 
say, sir? What?'* 

"Nothing,*' cried Captain Mac Whirr. 
••I said— all right." 

' * By all the powers ! We 've got it this 
time," observed Jukes in a howl. 

"You have n't altered her course? " in- 
quired Captain Mac Whirr, straining his 



No, sir. Certainly not. Wind came 
out right ahead. And here comes the 
head sea." 

A plunge of the ship ended in a shock 
as if she had landed her forefoot upon 
something solid. After a moment of still 

Typhoon 73 

ness a lofty flight of sprays drove hard 
with the wind upon their faces. 

"Keep her at it as long as we can/' 
shouted Captain Mac Whirr. 

Before Jukes had squeezed the salt 
water out of his eyes f*\l the stars had 


JUKES was as ready a man as any half* 
dozen young mates that may be 
caught by casting a net upon the waters, 
and though he had been somewhat taken 
aback by the startling viciousness of the 
first squall he had pulled himself together 
on the instant, had called out the hands, 
and had rushed then to secure such open- 
ings about the deck as had not been 
already battened down earlier in the even- 
ing. Shouting in his fresh, stentorian 
voice, **Jump, boys, and bear a hand!" 
he led in the work, telling himself the 
while that he had **just expected this." 

But at the same time he was growing 
aware that this was rather more than he 
had expected. From the first stir of the 
air on his cheek the gale seemed to take 
upon itself the accumulated impetus of an 
avalanche. Heavy sprays enveloped the 


Typhoon 75 

Nan-Shan from stem to stern, and in- 
stantly, in the midst of her regular rolling, 
she began to jerk and plunge as though 
she had gone mad with fright. 

Jukes thought: "This is no joke." 
While he was exchanging explanatory 
yells with his Captain a sudden lowering of 
the darkness came upon the night, falling 
before their vision like something palpable. 
It was as if the masked lights of the world 
had been turned down. Jukes was un- 
critically glad to have his Captain at hand. ^^ 
It relieved him, as though that man had, 
by simply coming on deck, taken at once 
most of the gale's weight upon his shoul- 
ders. Such is the prestige, the privilege, 
and the burden of command. 

Captain MacWhirr could expect no 
comfort of that sort from any one on 
earth. Such is the loneliness of com- 
mand. *He was trying to see, with that 
watchful manner of a seaman who stares 
into the wind's eye as if into the eye of 
an adversary, to penetrate the hidden 

76 Typhoon 

intention and guess the aim and force o{ 
the thrust. The strong wind swept at him 
out of a vast obscurity ; he felt under his 
feet the uneasiness of his ship, and he 
could not even discern a shadow of her 
shape. He wished it were not so; and 
very still he waited, feeling stricken by a 
blind man's helplessness. 

To be silent was natural to him, dark 
or shine. Jukes at his elbow made him- 
self heard, yelling cheerily in the gusts: 
"We must have got the worst of it at 
once, sir." A faint burst of lightning 
quivered all round as if flashed into a 
cavern — into a black and secret chamber 
of the sea, with a floor of foaming crests. 

It unveiled for a sinister, fluttering mo- 
ment a ragged mass of clouds hanging 
low, the lurch of the long outlines of the 
ship, the black figures of men caught on 
the bridge, heads forward, as if petrified 
in the act of butting. The darkness paK 
pitated down upon all this, and then the 
real thing came at last 


IT was something formidable and swift, 
like the sudden smashing of a Vial of 
Wrath. It seemed to explode all round 
the ship with an overpowering concussion 
and a rush of great waters, as if an im- 
mense dam had been blown up to wind- 
ward. It destroyed at once the organised 
life of the ship by its scattering effect. In 
an instant the men lost touch of each 
other. This is the disintegrating power 
of a great wind. It isolates one from 
one's kind. An earthquake, a landslip, 
an avalanche, overtake a man incident- 
ally, as it were — without passion. A 
furious gale attacks him like a personal 
enemy, tries to grasp his limbs, fastens 
upon his mind, seeks to rout his very 
spirit out of him. 

Jukes was driven away from fais com* 


78 Typhoon 

mander. He fancied himself whirled a 
great distance through the air. Every- 
thing disappeared, even for a moment his 
power of thinking, but his hand had found 
within six feet of him one of the rail- 
Btanchions. This he embraced with the 
ardour of love that will not be thwarted. 
It saved his body and steadied his soul so 
far that it became conscious of an intoler* 
able distress. It was by no means allevi- 
ated by an inclination to disbelieve the 
reality of this experience. Though young, 
he had seen some bad weather and had 
never doubted his ability to imagine the 
worst ; but this was so much beyond his 
powers of fancy that it appeared incom- 
patible with the existence of any ship 
whatever. He would have been incred- 
ulous about himself in the same way, per- 
haps, had he not been so greatly harassed 
by the necessity of exerting a continuous 
wrestling effort against a force trying to 
tear him away from his hold. Moreover, 
the conviction of not beinc; utterly de« 

Typhoon 79 

stroyed returned to him through the sens- 
ations of being half drowned, bestially 
shaken, and partly choked. He thought : 
"Heavens! What's this?" 

It seemed to him he remained there pre- 
cariously alone with the stanchion for a 
long, long time. The rain poured on him, 
flowed, drove in sheets. He was plunged 
in rushing water like a diver holding on to 
a stake planted in the bed of a swollen 
river. He breathed in gasps, and some- 
times the -water he swallowed was fresh, 
and sometimes it was salt. For the most 
part he kept his eyes shut tight, as if sus- 
pecting his sight might be destroyed in 
the immense flurry of the elements. 
When he ventured to blink hastily, he 
derived some moral support from the 
green gleam of the starboard light shining 
feebly upon the flight of rain and sprays. 
He was actually looking at it when its ray 
fell upon the uprearing head of the sea 
which put it out. He saw the head of 
the wave topple over, adding the mite of 


80 Typhoon 

its crash to the tremendous uproar raging 
around him, and almost at the same in- 
stant the stanchion was wrenched from his 
grasp. After a crushing thump on his 
back he found himself suddenly afloat and 
borne away. His first irresistible notion 
was that the whole China Sea had climbed 
on the bridge. Then, more sanely, he 
concluded himself gone overboard. All 
the time he was being tossed, flung, and 
rolled in great volumes of water, he kept 
on repeating mentally, with t?he utmost 
precipitation, the words : "My God ! My 
God ! My God ! My God ! " 

All at once, in a revolt of misery and 
Jespair, he formed the crazy resolution to 
get out of that. And he began to thresh 
about with his arms and legs. But as 
soon as he commenced his wretched 
struggles he discovered himself to have 
become somehow mixed up with a face, 
an oilskin coat, somebody's boots. He 
clawed ferociously all these things in turn, 
lost them, found them again, lost theoa 


Typhoon 8t 

once more, and was caught in the firm 
clasp of a pair of stout arms. He re* 
turned the embrace closely round a thick, 
soft body. He had found his Captain. 

They tumbled over and over each 
other, tightening their hug. Suddenly 
the water let them down with a brutal 
bang^ and, stranded against the side of 
the wheel-house, out of breath and 
bruised, they were left to stagger up in 
the wind and hold on where they 

Jukes came out of it rather horrified, as 
though he had just escaped some unparal- 
lelled outrage directed at his feelings. It 
had weakened his faith in himself. He 
started, shouting aimlessly to the man he 
could feel near him in that fiendish black- 
ness, "Is it you, sir? Is it you, sir? " till 
his temples seemed ready to burst. And 
he heard In answer a voice, as if crying far 
^way, as if screaming to him fretfully 
from a very great distance the one word, 
"Yes!" It was this tinge of irritation 



82 Typhoon 

which silenced him rather than the dif- 
ficulty of making himself heard. Other 
seas swept again over the bridge. He re- 
ceived them defencelessly right over his 
bare head, with both his hands engaged 
in holding. 

The motion of the ship was extrava- 
gant. Her lurches had an appalling help- 
lessness ; she pitched, as if taking a header 
into a void and seemed to find a wall to 
hit every time. When she rolled she fell 
on her side headlong as if she were begin- 
ning to tumble, turning down a slope, and 
she would be righted by such a demolish- 
ing blow that Jukes felt her reeling as a 
clubbed man reels before he collapses. In 
the darkness round her the gale howled 
and scuffled about gigantically, as though 
the entire world were a black gully. At 
certain moments the air would stream 
against the ship as if sucked through a 
tunnel with a concentrated, solid force of 
impact that seemed to lift her clean out of 
the water, and to keep her up for an in- 

Typhoon 83 

stant with only a quiver running through 
her from end to end. And then she 
would begin her tumbling again as if 
dropped back into a boiling caldron. 
Jukes tried hard to compose his mind and 
judg^ things coolly. 

Both ends of the Nan-Shan were under 
water, as though she had no more free- 
board than a raft. The sea, flattened 
down in the heavier gusts, would uprise 
and overwhelm them in snowy rushes of 
foam expanding wide, beyond both rails, 
into the night. And on this dazzling 
sheet, spread under the blackness of the 
clouds and emitting a bluish glow. Cap- 
tain MacWhirr could catch a desolate 
glimpse of a few tiny specks black as eb- 
ony, the tops of the hatches, the battened 
companions, the heads of the covered 
winches, the foot of a mast. This was all 
he could see of his ship. Her middle 
structure — covered by the bridge which 
bore him, his mate, the dark wheel-house 
where a man was steering, shut up with 

84 Typhoon 

the fear of being swept overboard to- 
gether with the whole thing in one great 
crash — her middle structure was like a 
half-tide rock awash upon a coast. It was 
like an outlying rock in the night» with 
the water boiling up, streaming over, 
pouring off, beating round— like a rock in 
the surf to which shipwrecked people cling 
before they let go — only it rose, it sank, it 
rolled continuously, without respite and 
rest, like a rock that had miraculously 
struck adrift from a coast and gone wal- 
lowing upon the sea. 

She was being looted with a senseless, 
destructive fury; trysails torn out from 
the extra gaskets, double-lashed awnings 
blown away, bridge swept clean, weather- 
cloths burst, rails twisted, light-screens 
smashed — and two of the boats had gone 
already. They had gone unheard and 
unseen, melting, as it were, in the shock 
and smother of the wave. It was only 
later, when, upon the white flash of an- 
other high sea hurling itself amidships. 

Typhoon 85 

Jukes had a rapid vision of two pairs of 
davits leaping black and empty out of the 
solid blackness, with one overhauled fall 
flying and an iron-bound block threshing 
in the wind, that he became aware of 
what had happened within about three 
yards of his back. 

He poked his head forward, groping for 
the ear of his commander. His lips 
touched it — big, fleshy, very wet. He 
cried in an agitated tone : 

"The boats are going now, sir." 
And again he heard that voice, distinct 
and faint, forced and ringing feebly, but 
with a penetrating effect of quietness in 
the enormous discord of noises, as if sent 
out from some remote spot of peace be- 
yond the black wastes of the gale ; again 
he heard a man's voice, — the frail and in- 
domitable ^ound that can be made to 
cirry an infinity of thought, resolution, 
and purpose, that shall be pronouncing 
confident words on the last day, when 
heavens fall and justice is done, — and it 


86 Typhoon 

was crying to him as if from very, very 
far:— "All right/' 

Jukes thought he had not managed to 
make himself understood. 

**Our boats — I say boats — the boats, 
sir! Two gone!" 

The same voice, within a foot of him, 
and yet so remote, yelled sensibly : 

•Xan't be helped." 

Captain Mac Whirr had never turned his 
face, but Jukes caught some more words 
on the wind. 

"What can — expect — Hammering 
through — Such — Bound to leave — some- 
thing behind — Stands to reason." 

Watchfully Jukes listened for more. 
No more came. This was all Captain 
MacWhirr had to say; and Jukes could 
picture to himself rather than see the 
broad squat back before him. An im- 
penetrable obscurity pressing down upoq 
the ghostly glimmers of the sea harboured 
the mysterious madness of all this rush, 
deluge, and uproar. Suddenly Jukes im- 

Typhoon 87 

agined himself completely indifferent to it 
all. It was too much. A sort of dull con- 
viction seized upon him that there was 
nothing to be done. 

If the steering-gear did not give way, if 
the sea did not burst the deck in or smash 
one of the hatches, if the engines did not 
give up, if way could be kept on her 
against this terrific wind, and she did not 
bury herself in one of these awful seas, of 
whose white crests alone, topping high 
above her bows, he could now and then 
get a sickening glimpse, — then there was 
a chance of her coming out of it. Some- 
thing within him seemed to turn over, 
bringing uppermost the feeling that the 
ship was lost. 

** She's done for," he said to himself 
with a surprising mental agitation, as 
though he had discovered an unexpected 
meaning in this thought. One of these 
things was bound to happen. Nothing 
could be prevented now and nothing could 
be remedied. The men on board did not 

88 Typhoon 

count, and the ship could not last. ThU 
weather was too impossible. 

It was like the maddest of dreams: a 
dream in which you inhabit a world ready 
to fly to pieces and are jostled rudely 
against a man you cannot see. Jukes felt 
an arm thrown heavily over his shoulders. 
And to this overture he responded with 
great intelligence by catching hold of his 
Captain round the waist. 

They stood clasped thus in the blind 
night, bracing each other against the 
wind, cheek to cheek and lip to ear, in 
the manner of two battered hulks lashed 
stem-to-stern together. 


JUKES heard the voice of his com- 
mander hardly any louder than be- 
fore, but nearer, as though, starting to 
march athwart the prodigious rush of the 
hurricane, it had approached him, bearing 
that strange eflfect of quietness like the 
serene glow of a halo. 

** D' ye know where the hands got to? " 
it asked, vigorous and evanescent at the 
same time, overcoming the strength of 
the wind, and swept away from Jukes in- 

Jukes did n't know. They were all on 
the bridge when the real force of the hur- 
ricane struck the ship. He had no idea 
where they had crawled to. Under the 
drcumstances they were nowhere, for all 
the use that could be made of them. 
Somehow the Captain's wish to know dis- 


tressed Jukes. 


90 Typhoon 

"Want the hands, sir?" he cried, ap- 

** Ought to know," asserted Captain 
MacWhirr. 'VHold hard." 

They held hard. An outburst of un- 
chained fury, a vicious rush of the wind, 
absolutely steadied the ship. Her dis- 
ordered motion was checked and she only 
rolled short and swift ; she rocked quick 
and light like a child's cradle for a terrific 
moment of suspense, while the whole at- 
mosphere, as it seemed, streamed furi- 
ously past her, roaring away from the 
tenebrous earth. 

It suffocated them, and with eyes shut 
they tightened their grasp. What, from 
the magnitude of the shock, might have 
been a column of water, running upright 
in the dark, butted against the ship, broke 
short, and fell on her bridge, crushingly 
from on high, with a dead, burying 

A flying fragment of that collapse, a 
mere splash, enveloped them in one swir' 

Typhoon 91 

froiA their feet over their heads, violently, 
filling their ears, mouths, and nostrils 
with salt water. It knocked out their 
legs, wrenched hastily at their arms, 
seethed away swiftly under their chins, 
and opening their eyes they saw the piled- 
up masses of foam dashing to and fro 
amongst what looked like the fragments 
of a ship. She had given way as if driven 
straight in. They had felt her give under 
them, and in their panting breasts their 
hearts yielded, too, before the tremendov9 
blow; and all at once she sprang up to 
her desperate plunging as if trying to 
scramble out from under the ruins. 

The seas in the dark seemed to rush 
from all sides to keep her back where she 
might parish. There was hate in the way 
she was handled, and a ferocity in the 
blows that fell. She was like a living 
creature thrown to the rage of a mob: 
hustled terribly, struck at, borne up, 
flung down, leaped upon. Captain Mac- 
Whirr and Jukes kept hold of each other^. 

92 Typhoon 

deafened by the noise, gagged by the 
wind ; and the great physical tumult beat- 
ing about their bodies brought, like an 
unbridled display of passion, a profound 
trouble to their souls. One of those wild 
and appalling shrieks that are heard at 
times passing mysteriously overhead in 
the steady roar of a hurricane, like a long 
scream of pain from something living, im« 
mense and tormented, swooped, as if 
borne on wings, upon the ship, and Juke^ 
tried to outscream it. 

"Will she live?" 

The cry was wrenched out of his breast 
It was as unintentional as the birth of a 
thought in the head, and he heard no< 
thing of it himself. It all became extinct 
at once — thought, intention, effort; and 
of his cry the inaudible vibration added to 
the tempest-waves of the air. 

He expected nothing from it — nothing 
at all. For, indeed, what answer could be 
made? But after a while he heard with 
amazement the frail and resisting voice ia 

Typhoon 93 

his ear, — the dwarf sound, unconquered 
in the giant tumult, — 

"She may!" 

It was a dull yell, more difficult to seize 
than a whisper, -^the unsubstantial and 
passing shadow of a yell. Jukes accepted 
it with bitterness. And presently the 
voice returned again, half submerged in 
the vast crashes, like a ship battling 
against the waves of an ocean. 

•* Let's hope so!" it cried, small, 
lonely, and unmoved, a stranger to the 
visions of hope or fear, and it flickered 
into disconnected words: "Ship— This 
— Never — Anyhow — For the best." 
Jukes gave it up contemptuously. 

And then, as if it had come suddenly 
upon the one thing fit to withstand the 
power of a storm, it seemed to gain force 
and firmness for the last broken shouts : 

"Keep on hammering — builders — Good 
men — Ar„i chance it — Rout — Engine 
Good man/' 


CAPTAIN MacWHIRR removed his 
arm from Jukes's shoulders and 
thereby ceased to exist for his mate, so 
dark it was. Jukes experienced a great 
deception, as though of undeniable right 
he had expected to obtain an utterance of 
precise effect. After a tense stiffening of 
every muscle he would let himself go limp 
all over. The gnawing of profound dis- 
comfort existed side by side with an in- 
credible disposition to somnolence, as 
though he had been buffeted and worried 
into drowsiness. The wind would get 
hold of his head and try to shake it off 
his shoulders; his clothes, full of water, 
were as heavy as lead, stiff like sheet-iron, 
cold and dripping like an armour of melt- 
ing ice: he shivered. It lasted a long 
time ; and, with his hands contracted by 


Typhoon 95 

cramp closed hard on his hold, he was 
letting himself sink slowly into the depths 
of bodily misery. There was no sugges- 
tion of end to it, as there is no end to the 
horror of a nightmare. Jukes's mind be- 
came concentrated upon himself in an 
aimless, idle way, and when something 
pushed lightly at the back of his knees he 
nearly, as the saying is, jumped out of his 

In the start forward he bumped the 
back of Captain MacWhirr, who did n't 
move, and then a hand gripped his thigh. 
A lull hac} come, a menacing lull of the 
wind, the holding of a stormy breath — 
and he felt himself pawed all over. It 
was the boatswain. He had recognised 
the hands, so thick and enormous that 
they seemed to belong to some new 
species of man. 

The boatswain had arrived on the 
bridge, crawling on all fours against the 
wind, and had found the chief mate's legs 
with the top of his head. Immediately 

9^ Typhoon 

he crouched and began to explore Jukes*s 
person upwards, with clumsy, prudent, 
apologetic touches, as became an inferior 

He was an ill-favoured, undersized, 
gruff sailor of fifty, coarsely hairy, short 
legged, long-armed, resembling an elderly 
ape. His strength was immense; and in 
his great lumpy paws, bulging like brown 
boxing-gloves on the end of his furry fore- 
arms, the heaviest objects were handled 
like playthings. Apart from the grizzled 
pelt on his chest, the menacing de- 
meanour, and the hoarse voice, he had 
none of the classical attributes of his rat- 
ing. His good nature amounted almost 
to imbecility; the men did what they 
liked with him, and he had not an ounce 
of initiative in his character, which was 
easy-going and talkative. For these rea- 
sons Jukes naturally disliked him; but 
Captain MacWhirr, to Jukes's scornful 
disgust, seemed to regard him as a first- 
rate petty officer. 

He pulled himself up by Jukes's coat. 


Typhoon 97 \ 

taking that liberty with the greatest mod- 
eration, and only so far as it was forced 
upon him by the hurricane, "What is it, 
bo's'n, what is it?" yelled Jukes, impa- 
tient with the foreboding of some odious 
trouble. What could that fraud of a 
bo's'n want on the bridge? The typhoon 
had got on Jukes's nerves. The husky 
bellowings of the other, though unintelli- 
gible, seemed to suggest a state of lively 
satisfaction. There could be no mistake. 
The old fool was pleased with something. 
The boatswain's other hand had found 
some other body, for in a changed tone 
he began to inquire: "Is it you, sir? Is 
It you, sir?" The wind strangled his 

"Yes! "cried Captain MacWhirr. 



/ \ 


ALL that the boatswain, out of a 
superabundance of yells, could 
make clear to Captain Mac Whirr was the 
bizarre intelligence that ''AH them 
Chinamen in the fore 'tween-deck had 
fetched away, sir." Jukes, to leeward, 
could hear these two shouting within six 
inches of his face, as you may hear on a 
still night half a mile away two men con- 
versing across a field. He heard Captain 
MacWhirr's exasperated ''What? — 
What?" and the strained pitch of the 
other's hoarseness. "In a lump . . . 
seen . . . myself. Awful sight, sir 
. thought . . . tell you." 
Jukes remained indifferent in the over- 
powering force of the hurricane, which 
made the very thought of action utterly 

vain. Besides, being very young, he had 


Typhoon 99 

/ound the occupation of keeping his heart 
completely steeled against the worst so 
full of excitement that he had come to 
feel an impatient dislike towards any 
other form of activity whatever. The im- 
mediate peril had an atrocious side — the 
violence, the darkness, the uproar — which 
made the business of enduring it all sur- 
prisingly engrossing. He was n't in the 
least scared ; he knew that very well ; and 
the proof of it was that, firmly believing 
he would never see another sunrise, he 
could be now sitting down, in a manner 
of speaking, as calm as pos^ble under 
that belief. 

These are the moments of do-nothing 
heroics to which even good men surrender 
at times. Many officers of ships can no 
doubt recall a case in their experience 
when just such a trance of confounded 
stoicism would come 9II at once over a 
whole ship*s company. The mere recol- 
lection of such a passage is enough 1;o. 
bring back all the original dismay. It fsi 

loo Typhoon 

difficult to allude to it without flinging 
swear-words backwards into the past ; not 
precisely at the men themselves, which 
would be like throwing stones, but upon 
the unhonoured memory at large. 

Jukes, however, had no wide experi- 
ence of men or storms. He conceived 
himself to be calm — inexorably calm; 
calm as the very statue of calmness in the 
night and terror of a storm. It suited 
him to be left alone thus, and it seemed 
also as though really nothing more could 
be required of him. But as a matter of 
fact he was cowed ; not abjectly, but only 
so far as a decent man may, without be- 
coming loathsome to himself. 

It was rather like a forced-on numbness 
of spirit. The long, long stress of a gale 
does it ; the suspense of the interminably 
culminating catastrophe; the trial of sus- 
tained violence going on endlessly, as 
though time itself were hurled upon one ; 
the formidable hint of annihilation in the 
j^^eep and roar of the wind. And there 

Typhoon loi 

is a bodily fatigue in the mere holding on 
to existence within the excessive tumult ; 
a searching and insidious fatigue that 
penetrates deep into a man's breast to 
cast down and sadden his heart, which is 
incorrigible, and of all the gifts of the 
earth — even before life itself — aspires to 

Jukes was benumbed much more than 
he supposed. He stood very wet, very 
cold, stiff in every limb, and in a momen* 
tary hallucination of swift visions (it is 
said a drowning man thus reviews all his 
life) he was run up against by memories 
altogether unconnected with his present 
situation. He remembered his father, for 
instance ; a worthy but - fanciful business 
man, who, at an unfortunate crisis in his 
affairs, went quietly to bed and died forth<^ 
with in a state of resignation. Jukes did 
not recall these circumstances, of course; 
but, remaining otherwise unconcerned, he 
remembered distinctly the poor man's 
face, a certain game of nap played when 

I02 Typhoon 

quite a boy in Table Bay, on board a ship 
since lost with all hands, the thick eye- 
brows of his first skipper; and, without 
any emotion, as he might years ago have 
walked listlessly into her room and seen 
her sitting there with a book, he remem- 
bered his mother, — dead, too, now, — the 
resolute woman left badly ofif, who had 
been very firm in his bringing up. 

It could not have lasted more than a 
second, perhaps not so much. A heavy 
arm had fallen about his shoulders ; Cap- 
tain MacWhirr's voice was speaking his 
name into his ear. ** Jukes! Jukes!" 

He detected the tone of deep concern. 
The wind had thrown its weight on the 
ship, trying to pin her down amongst the 
seas. They made a clean breach over her 
as over a deep-swimming log; and the 
gathered weight of crashes menaced mon- 
strously from afar. They flung out of the 
night with a ghostly light on their crests, 
the light of sea-foam that in an expand- 
ing, boiling up, pale flash showed upon 

Typhoon 103 

the slender body of the ship the toppling 
rush, the downfall, and the seething, mad 
scurry of each wave. Never for a moment 
could she shake herself clear of the water. 
Jukes, rigid, perceived in her motion the 
ominous sign of haphazard floundering. 
She was no longer struggling intelligently. 
It was like the beginning of the end ; and 
the note of busy concern in Captain Mac- 
Whirr's voice sickened him like an exhi- 
bition of blind and pernicious folly. 

The spell of the storm had fallen upon 
Jukes. He was penetrated by it, ab« 
sorbed by it ; he was rooted in it with a 
rigour of dumb attention. Captain Mac- 
Whirr persisted in his cries, but the wind 
got between them like a solid wedge. 
He hung round Jukes's neck as heavy as 
a stone, and suddenly the sides of the;*r 
heads knocked together. "Jukes. Mr. 
Jukes — I say." 

He had to answer that voice that would 
not be silenced. He answered in the cus- 
tomary manner: "Yes, sir.'' 


I04 Typhoon 

An4 directly his heart, corrupted by 
the storm that breeds a craving for peace, 
rebelled desperately against the tyranny 
of training and command. 


CAPTAIN MacWHIRR continued 
his efforts. He had his mate's head 
fixed firm in the crook of his elbow and 
pressed it to his yelling lips mysteriously. 
Sometimes Jukes would break in, admon^ 
ishing hastily, "Look out, sir"; or Cap- 
tain MacWhirr would bawl an earnest 
exhortation to "Hold hard, there," and 
the whole black universe seemed to reel 
together with the ship. They paused. 
She floated yet. And Captain MacWhirr 
would resume his shouts. **• . . Says 
— whole lot — fetched away 
ought to see • • • what 's the mat- 
ter? " 

At the beg[inning of the gale all hands 
had taken refuge in the port alleyway. It 
had a door aft, which they shut; it was 

very dark, cold, and dismal there. At a 


io6 Typhoon 

heavy fling of the ship they would groan 
all together in the dark, and there were 
uneasy mutters' when an exceptionally 
heavy sea boarded the ship and tons of 
water could be heard scuttling about as 
if trying to get at them. The boatswain 
was keeping up a gruff talk, but a more 
unreasonable lot of men, he said after- 
wards, he had never been with. They 
were snug enough there out of harm's 
way, and not wanted to do anything 
either, and yet they did nothing but 
grumble and complain peevishly like so 
many sick kids. Finally one of them said 
that if there had been at least some light 
to see each other's noses by it would not 
be so bad. It was making him crazy, he 
declared, to lie there in the dark waiting 
for the blamed hooker to sink. "Why 
don't you go outside, then, and be done 
with it?" the boatswain turned on him. 

This called up general execration. The 
boatswain found himself overwhelmed 
with reproaches of all sorts. They seemed 

Typhoon 107 

to take it ill that a lamp was not instantly 
created for them out of nothing. They 
would whine after a light to get drowned 
by — anyhow ! And though the unreason 
of their revilings was patent, since no one 
could hope to reach the lamp-room, which 
was forward, he became greatly distressed. 
He did not think it was decent of them to 
nag at him like this. He said so and was 
met by a general contumely. He sought 
refuge, therefore, in an embittered silence« 
Their grumbling and sighing and mutter- 
ing worried him greatly, but by-and-by it 
occurred to him that there were six globe 
lamps hung in the 'tween-deck and that 
there could be no harm in depriving the 
coolies of one of them. 

The Nan-Shan had an athwartship 
bunker which, being frequently used as 
cargo space, communicated by an iron 
door with the fore 'tween-deck. Its man* 
hole was the foremost one in the alley- 
way. The boatswain could gefc in, there- 
fore, without coming out on deck at all; 

io8 Typhoon 

but, to his great surprise, he found he 
could induce no one to help him in taking 
off the manhole cover. He groped for it 
all the same, but one of the crew lying in 
his way refused to budge. **Why! I 
only want to get you that blamed light 
you are crying for," he expostulated, aK 
most pitifully. Somebody told him to go 
and put his head in a bag. He regretted 
he could not recognise the voice and that 
it was too dark to see, otherwise, as he 
said, he would have put a head on thai 
son of a sea-cook, anyway, sink or swim. 
Nevertheless, he had made up his mind 
to show them he could get light, if he 
were to die for it. Through the violence 
of the ship's rolling, every movement was 
dangerous. To be lying down seemed 
labour enough. He nearly broke his neck 
dropping into the bunker. He said he 
fell down, and was kept shooting from 
side to side in the dangerous company of 
a heavy iron bar — a coal-trimmer's slice 
probably — left down there by somebody. 

Typhoon 109 

This thing made him as nervous as though 
it had been a wild beast. He could not 
see it, the inside of the bunker coated 
with coal dust being perfectly and im- 
penetrably black, but he heard it sliding 
and clattering and striking, here and 
there, always in the neighbourhood of his 
head. It seemed to make an extraordv- 
nary noise, too, to give heavy thumps as 
though it had been as big as a bridge 
girder. This was remarkable enough for 
him to notice while he was flutig from 
port to starboard and back again, and 
clawing desperately the smooth sides of 
the bunker in the endeavour to stop him- 
self. The door into the 'tween-deck not 
fitting quite true, he saw a thread of dim 
light at the bottom. 

Being a sailor and a still active man, he 
did not want much of a chance to regain 
his feet; and, as luck would have it, in 
scrambling up he put his hand on the iron 
slice, picking it up as he rose. Otherwise 
he would have been afraid of the thing 

I lo Typhoon 

breaking his legs or at least knocking him 
down again. At first he stood still. He 
felt unsafe in this darkness that seemed to 
make the ship's motion unfamiliar, un- 
foreseen, and difficult to counteract. He 
felt so much shaken for a moment that he 
dared not move for fear of "taking charge 
again." He had no mind to get battered 
to pieces in that bunker. 

He had hit his head twice; he was 
dazed a little. He seemed to hear yet so 
plainly the clatter and bangs of the iron 
slice flying about his ears that he tight- 
ened his grip to prove to himself he had 
it there safe in his hand. He was vaguely 
amazed at the plainness with which down 
there he could hear the gale raging. Its 
howls and shrieks seemed .to take on in 
the emptiness of the bunker something of 
the human character, of human rage and 
pain — being not vast, but infinitely poig- 
nant. And there were, with every roll, 
thumps, too, — profound, ponderous 
thumps, as if a bulky object of five-ton 

Typhoon 1 1 1 

weight or so had got play in the hold. 
But there was no such thing in the cargo. 
Something on deck? Impossible. Or 
alongside? Could n't be. 


HE thought all this quickly, clearly, 
competently, like a seaman, and in 
the end was puzzled. It occurred to him, 
too, that the hands in the alleyway had 
started scrambling and howling since be 
had left them, in a sort of confused, up« 
roarious way. But as the manhole had 
remained open he ought to have heard 
them more distinctly, much nearer, as it 
were. This noise, though, came dead- 
ened, from outside, together with the 
washing and pouring of water on deck 
above his head. Wind? Must be. It 
made down there a row like the shouting 
of a big lot of crazed men. And he dis- 
covered in himself a desire for a light, too, 
if only to get drowned by, and a nervous 
anxiety to get out of that bunker as quick 
as possible. 


Typhoon 1 1 3 

He pulled back the bolt ; the heavy iron 
plate turned on its hinges;, and it was as 
though he had opened the door to sounds 
of the tempest. A gust of hoarse yelling 
met him ; the air was still ; and the rush- 
ing of water overhead was covered by a 
tumult of strangled, throaty shrieks that 
produced the effect of despejrate confu- 
sion. He straddled his legs the whole 
width of the doorway and stretched his 
neck. And at first he perceived only 
what he had come to seek — four small, 
yellow flames swinging violently on the 
great body of the dusk. 

It was like the gallery of a mine, with 
a row of stanchions in the middle and 
cross-beams overhead, penetrating into 
the gloom ahead — infinitely. And to port 
there loomed like the caving in of one of 
the sides a bulky mass with a slanting 
outline. The whole place, with the shad- 
ows and the shapes, moved all the time — 
irresistibly. The boatswain glared; the 
ship lurched to starboard and a great howl 


114 Typhoon 

came from that mass that had the slant of 
fallen earth. 

Pieces of wood whizzed past. Planks, 
he thought, inexpressibly startled and 
flinging back his head. At his feet a man 
went sliding over, open-eyed, on his 
back, straining with uplifted arms for 
nothing ; and another came bounding like 
a detached stone with his head between 
his legs and his hands clenched. His 
pigtail whipped in the air, he made a grab 
at the boatswain's legs, and from his 
opened hand a bright white disc rolled 
against the boatswain's foot. He recog- 
nised a silver dollar, as one would recog- 
nise a familiar object in the improbabilities 
of a nightmare. 

He yelled at it with astonishment. 
With a precipitated sound of trampling 
and shuffling of bare feet and with gut- 
tural cries, the vague mound piled up to 
port, detached itself from the ship's side, 
and shifted to starboard, sliding, inert 
and struggling, to a dull, brutal thump 

Typhoon 1 1 5 

The cries ceased. The boatswain heard 
a long moan, the roar and whistling of 
the wind; he saw an inextricable con- 
fusion of heads and shoulders, naked soles 
kicking upwards, fists raised, tumbling 
backs, legs, pigtails, faces. "Good 
Lord!" he cried, horrified, and banged 
to the iron door upon this vision. 

This was what he had come on the 
bridge to tell. He could not keep it to 
himself, and on board ship there is only 
one man to whom it is worth while to un- 
burden yourself. On his passage back 
the hands in the alleyway swore at him 
for a fool. Why did n't he bring that 
lamp? What the devil did coolies matter 
to anybody? And when he came out the 
extremity of the ship made what went 
on inside of her appeeur indeed of little 

At first he thought he had left the alley- 
way in the very moment of her sinking. 
* » The bridge ladders had been washed 
away, but an enormous sea filling the 

ii6 Typhoon 

after-deck floated him up. After that he 
had to lie on his stomach for some time, 
holding to a ring-bolt, getting his breath 
now and then, and swallowing salt water. 
He struggled farther on his hands and 
knees, too frightened and distracted to 
turn back. In this way he reached the 
after part of the wheel-house. In that 
comparatively sheltered spot he found the 
second mate. He was pleasantly sur- 
prised, his impression being that every- 
body on deck must have been washed 
away a long time ago. He asked eagerly 
where the Captain was. 

The second mate was lying low, like a 
malignant little animal under a hedge. 
''Captain ? Gone overboard after getting 
us into this mess." The mate, too, for 
all he knew or cared. Another fool. They 
would n't have a chance to kill any more 
good men. Did n't matter. Everybody 
was going by-and-by. 

The boatswain crawled out again into 
the strength of the wind ; not because he 

Typhoon 1 1 7 

much expected to find anybody, he said, 
but just to get away from "that man," 
He crawled out as outcasts go to face an 
inclement world. Hence his great joy at 
finding Jukes and the Captain. But what 
was going on in the 'tween-deck was to 
him a minor matter by that time, like a 
distant and still memory made more faint 
by the exigencies of a turbulent existence. 
Besides, it was difficult to make yourself 
heard,. But he managed to convey the 
idea that the Chinamen had broken adrift 
and that he had come up on purpose to 
report this. As to the hands, they were 
all right. Then, almost appeased, he 
subsided on the deck in a sitting posture, 
hugging with his arms and legs the stand 
of the engine-room telegraph — an iron 
casting as thick as a post. When that 
went — why, he expected he would go too. 
He gave no more thought to the coolies. 
Captain Mac Whirr made Jukes under- 
stand he wanted him to go down below— 
to see. 

ii8 Typhoon 

"What could I do, sir? "' and the trem* 
bling of his whole wet body caused his 
voice to sound like bleating. 

''See! Bo's'n— says— adrift." 

"That bo's*n is a confounded fool/* 
howled Jukes shakily. 

What was the good of going to see? 
He did n't want to see. What could 
one do single-handed with two hundred 
Chinamen? It was impossible to make 
that man understand the most obvious 
things. The absurdity of the demand 
made upon him revolted Jukes. He was 
as unwilling to go as if the moment he 
had left the deck the ship were sure to 

"I must know— can't leave " 

"They '11 settle, sir." 

"Fight — boVn says fight — Why? 
Can't have — fighting — board ship. . . . 
Rather keep you here — case — I should — 
washed overboard myself. • . . Stop 
it — some way — You see and tell me — 
through engine-room tube. • . . Don't 

Typhoon 119 

want you — come up here — too often. 
. . . Dangerous — moving about — deck.'" 

JukeSy held with his head in chancery, 
had to listen to what seemed horrible 

"Don't want — you get lost — so long — 
ship don't. . . . Rout — Good man 
—Ship — through this — all right yet." 

All at once Jukes understood he would 
have to go. 

"Do you think she will?" he screamed. 


But the windy as if made angry by Cap- 
tain Mac Whirr, seemed to throw itself at 
them with redoubled force and devoured 
the reply out of which Jukes heard only 
the one word pronounced with great 
". . . Always. . . .'* 
Captain Mac Whirr released Jukes and, 
bending over the boatswain, yelled, "Get 
back with the mate." Jukes only knew 
that the arm was gone off his shoulders. 
He was dismissed with his orders — to do 
what? He was exasperated into letting 


1 20 Typhoon 

go his hold carelessly and on the instant 
was blown away. It seemed to him he 
would be blown right over the stern. He 
flung himself down and the boatswain, 
who was following, fell on him. 

"Don't you get up yet, sir," cried the 
boatswain. ' * No hurry ! ' * 

A sea swept over. Jukes understood 
the boatswain to say that the bridge lad- 
ders were gone. **I '11 lower you down, 
sir, by your hands," he screamed. He 
shouted also something about the smoke- 
stack being as likely to go overboard as 
not. Jukes thought it very possible and 
imagined the fires out, the ship helpless 
— ^and he down there. The boatswain by 
his side kept on yelling. Was it a warn* 
ing? " What ? What is it? " Jukes cried 
distressfully, and the other repeated, 
* ' What would my old woman say if she 
saw me now?** 


IN the alleyway, where a lot of watei 
splashed in the dark, the men were 
still as death, till Jukes stumbled against 
one of them and cursed him savagely for 
being in the way. Two or three voices 
then asked, eager and weak, "Any chance 
for us, sir?" 

•'What 's the matter with you fools?" 
he said brutally. He felt as though he 
could throw himself down amongst them 
and never move any more. But they 
seemed cheered, and, in the midst of 
warnings, "Look out!" — "Mind the 
manhole lid, sir," they lowered him into 
the bunker. The boatswain tumbled 
down after him, and as soon as he had 
picked himself up he remarked : 

"She would say, 'Serve you right, you 

old fool, for going to sea. 


$ p» 

122 Typhoon 

The boatswain had some means, and 
made a point of alluding to them fre- 
quently. His wife — a fat woman — and 
two grown-up daughters kept a green- 
grocer's shop. 

In the dark. Jukes, unsteady on his 
legs, listened to a faint thunderous patter. 
A deadened screaming went on steadily 
at his elbow as it were; and from above 
the louder tumult of the storm descended 
upon these near sounds. His head swam. 
To him, too, in that bunker, the motion 
of the ship seemed novel and menacing, 
sapping his resolution as though he had 
never been afloat before. 

He had half a mind to scramble out, 
but the remembrance of Captain Mac- 
Whirr's voice made this impossible. And 
yet he felt he could do nothing. He had 
an inclination to sit down, and the feeling 
of helplessness in that beastly black hole 
made him sick of his life. His orders 
were to ^o and see. What was the good 
of it? he wanted to know. Enraged, he 

Typhoon 123 

told himself he would see — of course. 
But the boatswain, staggering clumsily, 
warned him to be careful how he opened 
that door ; there was a blamed fight going 
on. And Jukes, as if in great bodily 
pain, desired irritably to know what the 
devil they were fighting for. 

"Dollars. Dollars, sir. All them rot- 
ten chests got burst open. Blamed money 
skipping all over the place and they are 
tumbling after it head over heels, tearing 
and biting like anything. A regular little 
hell in there." 

Jukes convulsively opened the door. 
The short boatswain by his side peered 
too, like a curious baboon. 

One of the lamps had gone out, broken 
perhaps. Rancorous, guttural cries burst 
out loudly on their ears, and a strange 
panting sound, — the working of all these 
straining breasts. A hard blow hit the 
side of the ship ; water fell above with a 
stunning shock, and in the forefront of the 
gloom, where the air was reddish and 





124 Typhoon 

/ thick, Jukes saw a head bang the deck 

violently, two thick calves waving, muscu- 
lar arms twined round a naked body, a 
yellow face open-mouthed and with a set, 
wild stare look up and slide away. An 
empty chest clattered, turning over, a 
man fell head first with a jump as if lifted 
by a kick; and further off, indistinct, a 
mass of men streamed like rolling stones 
down a bank, beating the deck with their 
feet and flourishing their arms wildly. 
The hatchway ladder was loaded with 
coolies, swarming on it like bees on a 
branch. They hung in a crawling, stirring 
cluster, beating with their fists the under- 
side of the battened hatch, and the head- 
long rush of the water was heard in the 
intervals of their yelling. The ship heeled 
oyer more and they began to drop off; 
first one, then two, then all the rest to- 
gether, falling straight with a great cry. 
Jukes was confounded. The boatswain, 
with gruff anxiety, begged him, "Don't 
you go in therfe, sir." 

Typhoon 125 

The whole place seemed to twist upon 
itself, jumping incessantly the while, and 
when the ship rose to a sea Jukes fancied 
that all these men would be shot upon 
him in a body. He swung the door to, and 
with trembling hands pushed at the bolt. 

As soon as his mate had gone, Captain 
Mac Whirr sidled and staggered as far as 
the wheel-h6use. Its door being hinged 
forward, he had to fight the gale for ad- 
mittance, and when at last he managed 
to enter, it was as if he had been fired 
through the wood. He stood within, 
holding the handle. 

The steering gear leaked steam and iti 
the confined space the glass of the binnacU 
made a shiny oval in a thin white fog. 
The wind howled, hummed, whistled, 
with sudden booming gusts that rattled 
the doors and the shutters in the vicious 
patter of sprays. Two coils of lead-line 
and a small canvas bag hung on a long 
lanyard swung wide off and came back» 
clinging to the bulkheads. The gratings 


I ^6 Typhoon 

under foot were nearly afloat, with every 
sweeping blow of a sea water squirted 
violently through the cracks all round the 
door, and the man at the helm had flung 
down his cap, his coat, and stood propped 
against the gear-casing in a striped cotton 
shirt open on his breast. The little brass 
wheel in his hands seemed a bright and 
fragile toy. The cords of his neck stood 
hard and lean, a deurk patch lay in the hoi* 
low of his throat, and his face was still 
and sunken as in death. 

Captain Mac Whirr wiped his eyes. The 
sea that had nearly taken him overboard 
had to his great annoyance washed his 
sou'wester hat off his bald head. The 
flufiFy, fair hair, soaked and darkened, re- 
sembled a mean skein of cotton threads 
festooned round his bare skull. He 
breathed heavily and his face, glistening 
with sea water, was of a hot crimson with 
the wind, with the sting of sprays. He 
looked as though he had come off sweat- 
ing from before a furnace. 


Typhoon 127 

"You, here?" he muttered heavily. 

The second mate had also found his 
way into the wheel-house. He had fixed 
himself in a corner with his knees up, a 
fist pressed against each temple, and this 
attitude suggested rage, sorrow, resigna- 
tion, surrender, with a sort of concen- 
trated unforgiveness. He said mournfully 
and defiantly : 

"My watch below now. Ain't it? " 

The steam-gear clattered, stopped, clat- 
tered again ; and the helmsman's eyeballs 
seemed to project out of a hungry face, 
as if the compass card behind the binnacle 
glass had been meat. God knows how 
long he had been there steering, as if for- 
gotten by all his shipmates. The bells 
had not been struck, there had been no 
reliefs, the ship's routine had gone down 
wind, but he was trying to keep her head 
north-northeast. The rudder might have 
been gone for all he knew, the fires out, 
the engines broken down, the ship ready 
to roll over like a corpse. He was anx- 

128 Typhoon 

ious not to get muddled and lose control 
of her head, because the compass card 
swung far both ways, wriggling on the 
pivoty and sometimes seemed to whirl 
right around. It was hard to make out the 
course she was making. He suffered from 
mental stress. He was horribly afraid 
also of the wheel-house going. Mountains 
of water kept on falling on it. When the 
ship took one of her desperate dives the 
corners of his lips twitched. 

Captain MacWhirr looked up at the 
wheel-house clock. Screwed to the bulk- 
head, it had a white face, on which the 
black hands appeared to stand quite still. 
It was half-past one in the morning. 

** Another day," he muttered to himself. 
The second mate heard him and, lifting 
his head as one grieving amongst ruins : 

"You won't see it break," he ex- 
claimed. His wrists and his knees could 
be seen to shake violently. "No, by 
God, you won't! . . ." He took his 
head again between his fists. 

T)rphoon 1 29 

The body of the helmsman had moved 
slightly, but his head did n't budge on 
his necky — like a stone head fixed to 
look one way from a column. During a 
roll that all but took his booted legs 
from under him, and in the very stagger to 
save himself, Captain MacWhirr said 
austerely : 

"Don't you pay any attention to that 


And then, with an indefinable change 
of tone, very grave, he added : 

"He is n't on duty." 

The sailor said nothing. The hurricane 
boomed, shaking the little place, which 
seemed air-tight; and the light of the 
binnacle flickered all the time. 

"You haven't been relieved," Captain 
MacWhirr went on, looking down. "I 
want you to stick on, though, as, long as 
you can. You 've got the hang of her. 
Another man coming here might make a 
mess of it. Would n't do. No child's 
play. And the hands are probably busy 

1 30 Typhoon 

with a job down below. . • • Think 
you can?" 

The steering-gear leaped into an abrupt 
short clatter, stopped smouldering like an 
ember, and the still man, with a motion- 
less gaze, burst out as if all the passion 
in him had gone into his lips : 

' ' By heavens, sir, I can steer for ever if 
you don't talk to me." 

"Oh! Aye! All right. . . ." The 
Captain lifted his eyes for the first time 
to the man. . . . * ' Hackett. * ' 

And he seemed to dismiss this matter 
from his mind. He stooped to the en- 
gine-room speaking-tube, blew in, and 
bent his head. Mr. Rout, below, an- 
swered, and at once Captain Mac Whirr 
put his lips to the 4nouthpiece. 


WITH the uproar of the gale around 
him he applied alternately his lips 
and his ear, and the engineer's voice 
mounted to him, harsh and as if out of 
the heat of an engagement. One of the 
stokers was disabled, the others had given 
up, the second engineer and the donkey- 
man were firing up. The third was stand- 
ing by the steam valve. The engines 
were being tended by hand. How was 
it above? 

"Bad enough. It rests with you," said 
Captain Mac Whirr. Was the mate down 
there yet? No? He would be presently. 
Would Mr. Rout let him talk through 
the speaking-tube. Through the deck 
speaking-tube. Because he — the Captain 
'—was going out again on the bridge 
directly. There was some trouble with. 


132 Typhoon 

the Chinamen. They were fighting 
amongst themselves. Could n't allow 
fighting, anyhow. 

Mr. Rout had gone away, and Captain 
MacWhirr could feel against his ear the 
pulsation of the engines like the beat of 
the ship's heart. Mr. Rout's voice down 
there cried something, distantly. The 
ship pitched headlong, the pulsation 
leaped with a hissing tumult and stopped 
dead. Captain MacWhirr's face was im- 
passive and his eyes were fixed aimlessly 
at the crouching shape of the second 
mate. Again Mr. Rout's voice cried out 
in the depths, and the pulsating beat re- 
commenced, with slow strokes — growing 

Mr. Rout came back to the tube. 

"It don't matter much what they 
do," he said hastily; and then, with irri- 
tation, "She takes these dives as if she 
never meant to come up again." 

"Awful sea," said the Captain's voice 
from above. 


4 « 

Typhoon 1 33 

"Don't let me drive her under," barked 
Solomon Rout up the pipe. 

*'Dark and rain. Can't see what 's 
coming," uttered the voice. "Must — 
keep — her — moving — enough to steer — 
and chance it/' it went on to state dis- 

I am doing as much as I dare." 
We are — getting — smashed up — a 
good deal up here/' proceeded the voice 
mildly. * * Doing — fairly well — though. 
Of course, if the wheel-house should 

go " 

Mr. Rout, bending an attentive ear, 
muttered peevishly something under his 

But the deliberate voice up there be- 
came animated to ask : 

"Jukes turned up yet?" Then, after 
a short wait: "I wish he would bear a 
hand. I want him to be done and come 
up here in case of anything — look after 
the ship. I am all alone. The second 
mate lost . • ." 

134 Typhoon 

'•What?'* shouted Mr. Rout into the 
engine-room, taking his head away. Then 
up the tube he cried, "Gone overboard? " 
and clapped his ear to. 

"Lost his nerve," the voice from above 
was proceeding in a matter-of-fact tone. 
"Damn awkward, this." 

Mr. Rout, listening with bowed neck, 
opened his eyes wide. However, he 
heard something like the sounds of a 
scufHe and broken exclamations coming 
down to him. He strained his hearing, 
and all the time Beale, the third engineer, 
with his arms upraised, held between the 
palms of his hands the rim of a little 
black wheel projecting at the side, of a big 
copper pipe. He seemed to be poising it 
above his head, as though it were a cor- 
rect attitude in some sort of game. 

To steady himself he pressed his shoul- 
der against the white bulkhead, with one 
knee bent and a sweat-rag tucked in the 
belt hung upon his hip. His smooth 
cheek was begrimed and flushed, and the 

Typhoon 135 

coal-dust on his eyelids, like the black 
pencilling of a make-up, enhanced the 
liquid brilliance of the whites, giving to 
his youthful face something of a feminine, 
exotic, and fascinating aspect. When 
the ship pitched he would with hasty 
movements of his hands screw hard at 
the little wheel. 

"Gone crazy," began the Captain's 
voice suddenly. ** Rushed at me — just 
now. Had to knock him down — this 
minute. You heard, Mr. Rout?" 

"The devil!" muttered Mr. Rout. 
' * Look out, Beale. * ' 

His voice rang out like the blast of a 
warning trumpet between the iron walls 
of the engine-room. Painted white, they 
rose high into the dusk of the skylight, 
sloping like a roof; and the whole lofty 
space resembled a chamber in, a monu- 
ment, divided by floors of iron grating, 
with lights flickering at different levels, 
and the still gloom within the columnar 
stir of machinery under the motionless : I 

^ - 

13^ Typhoon 

swelling of the cylinders. A loud and 
wild resonance, made up of all the noises 
of the hurricane, dwelt in the still warmth 
of the air. There was in it the smell of 
hot metal, of oil, and a slight mist of 
steam. The blows of the sea seemed to 
traverse it, in an unringing, stunning 
shock, from side to side. 

Gleams, like pale, long flames, trembled 
upon the polish of metal, from the floor- 
ing below the enormous crank-heads 
emerged in their turns with a flash of 
brass and steel — going over; while the 
connecting rods, big-jointed, like skeleton 
limbs, seemed to thrust them down and 
pull them yp again with an irresistible 
precision. And deep in the half-light 
other rods dodged to and fro, crossheads 
nodded quickly, disks of metal rubbed 
against each other, swift and gentle in a 
commingling of shadows and gleams. 

» . 


SOMETIMES all those movements 
would slow down simultaneously, as 
if they had been the functions of a living 
organism — powerful, silent, patient, and 
unerring, but stricken suddenly by the 
blight of languor; and Mr. Rout's eyes 
(vould blaze darker in his long, pale face. 
He was fighting this fight in a pair of car- 
pet slippers. A short, shiny jacket barely 
covered his loins, and his pale wrists pro- 
truded far out of the tight sleeves as 
though the emergency had added to his 
stature, lengthened his limbs, augmented 
his pallor, hollowed his eyes. 

He moved, climbing high up, disap- 
pearing low down, with a restless, pur- 
poseful industry, and when he stood still, 
holding the guard-rail in front of the 
starting-gear, he would keep glancing to 


1 38 Typhoon 

the right at the steam-gauge, at the 
water-gauge, upon the white wall in the 
light of a swaying lamp. The mouths of 
two speaking-tubes gaped stupidly at his 
elbow, and the dial of the engine-room 
telegraph resembled a clock of large di- 
ameter, bearing on its face curt words in- 
stead of figures. They stood out heavily 
black, around the black pivot-head of the 
solitary hand, emphatically symbolic of 
loud exclamations : Ahead — Astern — 
Slow — Half — Stand by • . • and the 
fat black hand pointed down to the word 
Full-— which, thus singled out, captured 
the eye as a sharp cry secures attention. 

The wood-encased bulk of the low- 
pressure cylinder, frowning portly from 
above, emitted a faint wheeze at every 
thrust, and, except for that low hiss, the 
engines worked their steel limbs headlong 
or slow with a silent, determined smooth- 
ness. And all this — the white walls, the 
moving steel, the floor plates under Solo- 
mon Rout's feet, the floors of iron grating 

Typhoon 139 

above his head, the, dusk and the gleams 
— ^ uprose and sank continuously, with 
one accord, upon the harsh wash of the 
waves against the ship's side. The whole 
loftiness of the place, booming hollow 
to the great voice of the wind, swayed 
at the top like a tree, would lay over 
bodily, as if borne down this way and that 
by tremendous blasts. 

"You 've got to hurry up," shouted 
Mr. Rout, as soon as he saw Jukes. 

Jukes's glance was wandering and 
tipsy, his red face was puffy, as though 
he had overslept himself. He burst into 
the engine-room like a man who had been 
racing over hills and dales for his life. 
He had had an arduous road and had 
travelled over it with immense vivacity, 
the agitation of his mind corresponding 
to the scrambling exertions of his body. 
He had rushed up out of the bunker — 
stumbling in the alleyway amongst a lot 
of bewildered men who, trod upon, asked 
**What '9 up, sir?" in awed mutters all 

140 Typhoon 

round him in the dark— down into the 
stoke-hole, missing many iron rungs in 
his hurry, into a place deep as a well, 
black as Tophet, narrow like a corridor, 
tipping over back and forth like a seesaw. 
Lumps of coal skipped to and fro from 
end to end, rattling like an avalanche of 
pebbles on a slope of iron. 

Somebody in there moaned with pain, 
and somebody else crouched over what 
seemed the body of a man ; a lusty voice 
blasphemed, and the glow under each fire- 
grate was like a pool of flaming blood 
radiating quietly in a velvety blackness. 

A gust of wind struck upon the na[>e of 
Jukes's neck, and next momen me felt it 
streaming about his wet ankles The 
stoke-hole ventilators hummed; and in 
front of the six fire-doors two men, 
stripped to the waist, staggered and 
stopped, apparently wrestling with two 

"Hallo! Plenty of draught now," 
yelled the second at once, as though he 

Typhoon 141 

had been all the time looking out for 
Jukes. The donkey*man, a dapper little 
chap with a dazzling fair skin and a tiny, 
gingery mustache, worked in a sort of 
mute transport. They were keeping a 
full head of steam, and a profound rum- 
bling sound, as of an empty furniture van 
trotting over a bridge, made a sustained 
bass to all the other noises of the place. 

"Blowing off all the time," went on 
yelling the second. With a sound as of a 
hundred scoured saucepans the orifice of 
a ventilator spat upon his shoulder a 
sudden gush of salt water, and he vol- 
leyed a stream of curses upon all things 
on earth, including his own soul ; ripping 
and raving, and all the time attending to 
his business. With a sharp clash of 
metal, the ardent pale glare of the fire 
opened upon his bullet head, showing his 
spluttering lips, his insolent eyes, and 
with a clash closed like the white-hot 
wink of an iron eye. 

*' Where 's the blooming ship? Can you 

H2 * Typhoon 

tell me — blast my eyes! Under water 
— or what? Are the condemned cowls 
gone to Hades, hey? Don't you know 
anything — you jolly sailor-man, you?" 

Jukes, after a bewildered moment, had 
been helped by a roll to dart through, 
and as soon as his eyes took in the com- 
parative vastness, peace, and brilliance of 
the engine-room, the ship, settling her 
stem heavily in the water, sent him 
charging head down upon Mr. Rout. 

The chief's arm, long like a tentacle 
and straightening as if worked by a 
spring, went out to meet him and de- 
flected his rush into a spia towards the 
speaking-tubes. At the same time Mr. 
Rout repeated earnestly: 

"You 've got to hurry up — whatever it 

, Jukes yelled, "Are you there, sir?" 
and listened. Nothing. Suddenly the 
roar of the wind fell straight into his ear, 
but presently a small voice shoved aside 
the shouting hurricane quietly : 


Typhoon 143 

**You, Jukes?— Well?" 

Jukes was ready to talk; it was only 
time that seemed to be wanting. And, 
somehow, he mistrusted the ability of the 
other man to understand. It was easy 
enough to account for everything. He 
could perfectly imagine the coolies bat- 
tened down in the reeking 'tween-deck, 
lying sick and scared between the rows of 
chests. Then one of these chests, or per- 
haps several at once breaking loose in a 
roll, knocking out others, sides splitting, 
lids flying open, and all these clumsy 
Chinamen staggering up in a body tG 
save their property. Afterwards, every 
fling of the ship would hurl that tramp, 
ing, yelling mob here and there, from side 
to side, in a whirl of smashed wood, torn 
clothing, rolling dollars. And a struggle 
once started, they would be unable to 
stop themselves. Nothing could stop 
them now except main force. It was a 
disaster. He had seen it, and that was 
all he could say. Some of them must be 



r r 

1 44 Typhoon 

dead, he believed. The rest would go on 
fighting. . • • 

He sent up his words tripping over each 
other, crowding the narrow tube. They 
mounted as if into a silence of an en- 
lightened comprehension dwelling alone 
up there with a storm. There was no 
circumventing thi; development. And 
he wanted to be dismissed from the face 
of that odious trouble intruding on the 
great need of the ship. 



HE listened. Before his eyes the en« 
gines turned with slow labour that 
in the moment of going off into a mad 
fling would stop dead at Mr. Rout's 
shoi^ , * * Look out, Beale ! ' ' They seemed 
to 4fsAt in an intelligent immobility stilled 
in midstroke, a heavy crank arrested on 
the cant, as if conscious of time itself be- 
ing on their side. Then, with a "Now, 
then! " from the chief and the sound of a 
breath expelled through clenched teeth, 
they would accomplish the interrupted 
revolution and begin another. 

There was the prudent sagacity of 
enormous strength in their movements. 
This was their work — this coaxing of a 
ship over the fury of waves and into the 
fierce eye of the wind. Mr. Rout's chin 
had sunk on his breast, and at times he 



146 Typhoon 

watched them from under his forehead 
like a man plunged deep in thought. 

The voice that kept the hurricane out 
of Jukes's ear began : 

"Take the hands . . . " and left 
off unexpectedly. 

"What could I do with the hands, 
sir? " 

A harsh, abrupt, imperious clang ex- 
ploded suddenly. The three pairs of 
eyes flew up to the telegraph dial to see 
the hand dart upwards from "Full" to 
"Stop '* as if snatched by a devil. And 
then these three men in the engine-room 
had the intimate sensation of a check 
upon the ship, of a strange shrinking, as 
if she had gathered herself for a leap. 

"Stop her! " bellowed Mr. Rout. 

Nobody, — not even Captain Mac Whirr, 
who caught sight of a white line of foam 
coming on at such a height that he 
could n't believe his eyes, — nobody knew 
the steepness of that sea and the awful 
depth of the hollow the hurricane had 

Typhoon i47 

scooped behind that running wall of 

It raced to meet the ship, and, with a 
pause, as of girding the loins, she lifted 
her bows and leaped. The flames in all 
the lamps sank, darkening the engine- 
room. One went out. She had not 
leaped quite high enough, for with a tear- 
ing crash and a swirling, raving tumult, 
tons of water fell upon her deck as though 
she had darted under the very foot of a 

Down there they looked at each other, 

* * Swept from end to end, by God ! ' ' 
bawled Jukes. 

She pitched into the hollow straight 
down as if tumbling from a cliff. The 
engine-room toppled forward menacingly, 
like the inside of a tower nodding in an 
earthquake. An awful racket of iron 
things falling came from the stoke-hole. 

Instead of recovering herself she hung 
head down while the souls of men on 

148 Typhoon 

board cried aloud to her to rise. She 
hung long enough for Beale to drop on 
his hands and knees as if he meant to fly 
on all fours out of the engine-room, and 
for Mr. Rout to turn his head slowly, 
rigid, cavernous, with the lower jaw 
dropping. Jukes had shut his eyes, and 
his face in a moment became hopelessly 
blank, like the face of a blind man. 

But she rose slowly, staggering as if she 
had to lift a mountain with her bows. 

Mr. Rout shut his mouth, Jukes 
blinked, and little Beale stood up hastily. 

"Another one like this and that 's the 
last of her! " cried the chief. 

He and Jukes looked at each other, and 
the same thought came into their heads — 
the Captain ! Everything must have been 
swept away. Steering-gear gone — men 
gone — ship like a log. All over directly. 

"Rush! '* ejaculated Mr. Rout thickly, 
glaring with enlarged, doubtful eyes at 
Jukes, who answered him by an irresolute 


a « 

Typhoon 149 

The clang of the telegraph gong soothed 
them instantly. The black hand dropped 
in a flash from "Stop" to "Full." 

"Now then, Beale! " cried Mr. kout. 

The steam hissed low. The piston-rods 
slid in and out. Jukes put his ear to the 
tube. The voice was ready for him. It 

"Pick up all the money. Bear a hand 
now. I '11 want you up here." And that 
Was all. 

"Sir?" called up Jukes. There was no 
answer. It struck him that if he had got 
an answer he would n't have known what 
to say. Nothing could be said. 

He staggered away as a defeated man 
staggers away from the field of battle. 
He had got in some way or other a cut 
above his left eyebrow, a cut to the bone. 
He was not aware of it in the least: 
quantities of the China Sea, large enough 
to break his neck for him, had gone over 
his head, had cleaned, washed, and salted 
that wound. It did not bleed* but only 

1 50 Typhoon 

gaped red; and this gash over the eye, 
his dishevelled hair, the disorder of his 
streaming clothes, gave him the aspect of 
a man worsted in a fight with fists. 

"Got to pick up the dollars," he ap- 
pealed to Mr. Rout, smiling pitifully, at 

"What 's that? Pick up ... ? 
I don't care . . ." Then quivering 
in every muscle, but with an exaggeration 
of paternal tone, "Go away now, for 
God's sake. You deck people '11 driv^ 
me silly. There 's that second mate been 
going for the old man. Don't you know? 
You fellows are going wrong for want of 
something to do . . ." 

At these words Jukes discovered in 
himself the beginnings of anger. He 
turned to go the way he had come, full 
of hot scorn for the chief. In the stoke- 
hole the plump donkey -man manoeuvred 
his shovel mutely, as if his tongue had 
been cut out; but the second was carry- 
ing on like a sort of noisy, undaunted 

Typhoon 15^ 

maniac, who, nevertheless, had preserved 
his skill in the art of stoking under a 
marine boiler. 

"Hallo, you wandering officer! Hey! 
Can't you get some of your slush-slingers 
to wind up a few of them ashes? I am 
getting choked with them here. Curse 
it! Hallo! Hey! Remember the ar- 
ticles! — 'sailors and firemen to assist each 
other.* Hey! D' ye hear? " 

Jukes was climbing out frantically, and 
the other, lifting up his face after him, 
howled : 

"Can't you speak? What are you pok- 
ing about here for? What 's your game, 

A frenzy possessed Jukes. By the time 
he was back amongst the men in the dark- 
ness of the alleyway he felt ready to wring 
ail their necks at the slightest sign of 
hanging back. The very thought of it 
exasperated him. He could n't hang 
^> back. They should n't! 


TH E impetuosity with which he came 
amongst them carried them along. 
They had already been excited and 
startled at all his comings and goings. 
By the fierceness and rapidity of his 
movements, more felt than seen in his 
rushes, he appeared formidable — busied 
with matters of life and death that 
brooked no delay. At his first word he 
heard them drop into the bunker one 
after another obediently, with heavy 

They were not clear as to what would 
have to be done. "What is it? What 
is it?" they were asking each other. The 
boatswain tried to explain ; the sounds of 
a great scufHe surprised them; and the 
mighty shocks reverberating awfully in 
the black bunker made them think fear 


Typhoon 153 

fully of the gale. When the boatswain 
threw open the door it seemed to them 
that an eddy of the hurricane stealing 
through the iron sides of the ship had set 
all the coolies whirling like dust: there 
came to them a confused uproar, a tem- 
pestuous tumult, a fierce mutter, gusts of 
screams dying away, and the tramping of 
feet mingling with the blows of the sea. 

For a moment they glared, blocking 
the doorway. Jukes pushed through 
them brutally. He said nothing and 
simply darted in. The Chinamen on the 
ladder, struggling suicidally to break 
through the battened hatch to a swamped 
deck, fell off, and he disappeared under 
them like a man overtaken by an ava^ 
lanche. The boatswain yelled excitedly : 

"Come along! Get the mate! He'll 
be trampled to death. Come on ! " 

They rushed in, stamping on breasts, 
on fingers, on faces, catching their feet 
in heaps of clothing, kicking broken 
wood ; but before they could get hold of 

1 54 Typhoon 

him Jukes emerged, waist-deep amongst 
clawing hands. In the instant he had 
been lost to view all the buttons of his 
jacket had gone, its back got split up to 
the collar, his waistcoat had been torn 
open. The central, struggling mass went 
over to the roll, dark, indistinct, helpless, 
with a wild gleam of eyes in the dim light 
that swayed after it and jerked when it 
thumped the ship's side. 

** Leave me alone — damn you!" 
screeched Jukes. "Drive them forward! 
Watch your chance when she pitches. 
Forward with them ! Drive them against 
the bulkhead! Jam 'em up!" 

The rushing of these eleven men into 
the seething 'tween - deck was like a 
splash of cold water into a boiling caldron. 
The commotion as it were sank for a 

The bulk of Chinamen were locked in 
such a compact scrimmage that, linking 
their arms and aided by an appalling dive 
of the ship, the seamen sent it forward in 

Typhoon 15S 

one great shove', like a solid block. Be- 
hind their backs small clusters and loose 
bodies tumbled from side to side. 

The boatswain performed prodigious 
feats of strength. With his long arms 
open and each . great paw clutching at 
a stanchion, he stopped the rush of 
seven entwined Chinamen rolling like 
a boulder. His joints cracked ; he said, 
•*Ha!" and they flew apart. But the 
carpenter showed the greater intelligence. 
He went back into the alleyway, where 
he found several coils of cargo gear, 
chain, and rope. With these, life-lines 
were rigged. 

There was really no resistance. The 
struggle, however it began, had turned 
into a scramble of blind panic. If they 
had started after their dollai;3, they were 
by that time fighting only for their foot- 
ing. They would take each other by the 
throat merely to save themselves from be- 
ing hurled about. Whoever got a hold 
anywhere would kick at the others who 

156 Typhoon 

caught at his legs and hung on, till a roll 
sent them flying together across the deck. 

The coming of the white devils was a 
terror. Had they come to kill? Those 
torn out of the ruck became very limp in 
the seamen's hands; some, dragged aside 
by the heels, were passive — like dead 
bodies, with open, fixed eyes; here and 
there one would fall on his knees as if 
begging for mercy ; several whom the ex- 
cess of fear made unruly were hit with hard 
fists between the eyes and cowed, while 
those who were hurt submitted to rough 
handling, blinking rapidly without a 
plaint. Faces streamed with blood ; there 
were raw places on the shaven heads, 
scratches, bruises, gashes. The broken 
porcelain out of the chests was mostly re* 
sponsible for the latter. Here and there 
a Chinaman with his pig-tail unplatted 
nursed a bleeding sole. 

They had been ranged closely after 
having been shaken into submission, 
cuffed a little to allay excitement, ad- 

Typhoon 157 

dressed in gruff words of encouragement 
that sounded like promises of evil. They 
sat on the deck in ghastly, drooping rows ; 
and, at the end, the carpenter, with two 
hands to help him, moved from place to 
place, setting taut and hitching the lines. 
The boatswain, with one leg and one arm 
embracing a stanchion, was busy with a 
lamp pressed to his breast, trying to get 
a light, and growling all the time like an 
industrious gorilla. The figures of sea- 
men stooped repeatedly, with the move- 
ments of gleaners, and everything was 
being flung into the bunker — clothing, 
smashed wood, broken china, and the 
dollars too, gathered up in men's jackets. 
Now and then one of them would stagger 
towards the doorway with his arms full of 
rubbish, and rows of dolorous, slanting 
eyes followed his movements. 

With every roll of the ship the long 
rows of Celestials would sway forward 
brokenly^ and her headlong dives knocked 
together the line of shaven polls from end 


158 Typhoon 

to end. When the wash of tons of watei 
rolling on the deck, within reach of hia 
handy died away for a moment, it seemed 
to Jukes, yet quivering from his exertions, 
that in his mad struggle down there he 
had overcome the wind somehow ; that a 
silence had fallen upon the ship, a silence 
in which the sea knocked thunderously at 
her sides. 

Everything had been cleared out of the 
'tween-deck; all the wreckage, as the 
men said. They stood erect and totter- 
ing, out of a multitude of heads and 
drooping shoulders. Here and there a 
coolie sobbed for his breath; where the 
high light fell Jukes could see the salient 
ribs of one, the yellow, wistful face of 
another; bowed necks; or would meet a 
dull stare directed at his face. He was 
amazed that there had been no corpses, 
but the lot of them seemed at their last 
gasp, and they appeared to him more 
pitiful than if they had all been dead. 

Suddenly one of the coolies began to 

Typhoon 159 

speak. The light came and went on his 
lean, straining face ; he threw his head up 
like a baying hound. From the bunker 
came the sounds of knocking and the 
tinkle of some dollars rolling loose: he 
stretched out his arm, his mouth yawned 
blacky and the incomprehensible guttural 
words that did not seem to belong to a 
human language — the hooting, babbling 
utterance of the man — startled Jukes as if 
a brute had tried to be eloquent. 

Grunts began to be heard about the 
'tween-deck. Two more started mouth- 
ing what seemed to Jukes fierce denunci- 
ations. He ordered the hands out 
hurriedly. He went last himself, backing 
through the door, while the grunts rose 
to a loud murmur and hands were ex- 
tended after him as after a malefactor. 
The boatswain shot the bolt and ren 
marked uneasily : 

''Seems as if the wind had dropped, 

The men were glad to get back into 

i6o Typhoon 

the alleyway. Secretly each of them 
thought that at the last moment he could 
rush out on deck, and that was a comfort. 
There is something horribly repugnant in 
the idea of being drowned under a deck. 
Now they had done with the Chinamen, 
they again became conscious of the ship's 

Jukes, on coming out, found himself 
up to the neck in the noisy water. He 
gained the bridge and discovered he could 
see shapes as if his sight had become pre- 
ternaturally penetrating. He saw faint 
outlines. They recalled not the familiar 
aspect of the Nan-Shan^ but something 
remembered — an old dismantled steamer 
he had seen years ago rotting on a mud- 
bank. She recalled that wreck. 

There was no wind, not a breath, ex- 
cept the faint currents created by the 
lurches of the ship. The smoke tossed 
out of the funnel was settling down upon 
her deck. He breathed it as he passed 
forward. He felt the deliberate throb of 

Typhoon i6i 

the engines and heard small sounds that 
seemed to have survived the great uproar: 
the knocking of broken fittings, the rapid 
tumbling of some piece of wreckage on 
the bridge. He traced the squat shape 
of his Captain holding on to a twisted 
bridge-rail, motionless, and swaying as if 
rooted to the planks. The unexpected 
stillness of the air oppressed him like an 
overpowering wind. 

"We have done it, sir," he gasped. 

"Thought you would," said Captain 
Mac Whirr. 

"Did you?" murmured Jukes to him- 
self, bitterly. 

"Wind fell all at once," went on the 
Captain. Jukes burst out: 

"If you think it was an easy job . . ." 

But his Captain, clinging to the rail, 
paid no attention. 

"According to the books the worst is 
not over yet." 

"If most of them hadn't been half 
dead with seasickness and fright not one 


I 62 Typhoon 

of us would have come out alive/' said 

"Had to do what's fair by them/' 
mumbled Mac Whirr, stolidly. **You 
don't find everything in books." 

"Why, I believe they would have risen 
on us if I had n't ordered the hands out 
of that, pretty quick," continued Jukes 
with warmth. 


AFTER the whisper of their shouts 
their ordinary tones, so distinct, 
seemed to them very loud in the amazing 
stillness of the air. It seemed to tl;iem they 
were talking in a dark and echoing vault. 
Through a jagged aperture in the dome 
of clouds the light of a few stars fell upon 
the black sea, rising and falling confus- 
edly with heavy splashes, all about the 
ship. Sometimes the head of a watery 
cone would fall on board and mingle with 
the rolling flurry of foam on the swamped 
deck ; and the Nan-Shan wallowed heavily 
within a cistern of circular form in the 
depth of the clouds resting on the sea. 
This ring of dense vapours gyrating 
madly around the calm of the centre en- 
compassed the ship like a motionless and 
unbroken wall of a blackness inconceivably 


]r64 Typhoon 

sinister. Within, the sea, as if agitated 
by an internal commotion, leaped in 
peaked mounds that jostled each other, 
slipping heavily against the ship, and a 
low moaning sound — the infinite plaint 
of the storm's fury — came from beyond 
the limits of the menacing calm. Cap- 
tain MacWhifr remained silent and 
Jukes's ready ear caught suddenly the 
faint, long-drawn roar of some immense 
wave rushing under that thick blackness 
which made the appalling boundary of his 

"Of course,** he started, *'they thought 
we had caught at the chance to plunder 
them. Of course ! You said — pick up 
the money. Es^ier said than done. 
They could n't tell what was in our heads. 
We came in, smash! — right* into the 
middle of them. Had to do it by a 
rush. . . ." 

**As long as it 's done,*' mumbled the 
Captain, without attempting to look at 
Jukes. "Had to do what 's fair.** 

Typhoon 165 



We shall find yet there 's the devil to 
pay when this is over," said Jukes, feel- 
ing very sore, " I-et them only recover a 
bit and you *11 see. They will fly at our 
throats, sir. Don't forget, sir, she is n't 
a British ship now. These brutes know 
it well, too. The damn'd Siamese flag ! " 

"We are on board all the same," re- 
marked Captain Mac Whirr. 

"The trouble 's not over y6t," insisted 
Jukes, prophetically, reeling and catch- 
ing on. "She 's a wreck," he added 

"The trouble *s not over yet," assented 
Captain MacWhirr, half aloud. "Look 
out for her a minute. ' ' 

"Are you going off the deck, sir?" 
asked Jukes, hurriedly, as if the storm 
was sure to pounce upon him as soon as 
he had been left alone with the ship. 

He saw her, battered and solitary, la- 
bouring heavily in a wild scene of mount- 
ainous black waters lit by the gleams 
of distant worlds. She moved slowly. 

1 66 Typhoon 

breathing into the still core of the hurri« 
cane the excess of her strength in a white 
cloud of steam ; and the deep-toned vibra- 
tion of the escape was like the defiant 
trumpeting of a living creature of the sea 
impatient for the renewal of the contest. 
It ceased suddenly. A moan in the still- 
ness of the air swooped upon Jukes's 

It was so plain that he looked up. He 
saw the stars shining into the pit of black 
vapours marking the circle of rushing 
winds and headlong seas. The ship was 
cut off from the peace of the earth. The 
wall rose high, with smoky drifts issuing 
from the inky edge that frowned upon the 
ship under the patch of glittering sky. 
The stars, too, seemed to look at her in.- 
tently, as if for the last time, and the 
cluster of their splendour sat like a dia- 
dem on a lowering brow. 

Captain MacWhirr had gone into the 
chart-room. There was no light there, 
but he could feel the disorder of tba^ 

, Typhoon 167 

place where he used to live tidily. His 
arm-chair was upset. The books had 
tumbled out on the floor; he scrunched 
a piece of glass under his boot. He felt 
for the matches and found a box on a 
shelf with a deep ledge. He struck one 
and, puckering the corners of his eyes, 
he held out the little flame towards the 
barometer, whose glittering top of glass 
and metal nodded at him continuously. 

It stood very low — incredibly low — ^so 
low that Captain Mac Whirr grunted. The 
match went out, and hurriedly he ex- 
tracted another with thick, stiff fingers. 

Again a little flame burst before the 
nodding glass and metal of the top. His 
eyes looked at it, out of the puckers, with 
attention, as if expecting a w;hisper. With 
his grave face he was like a hooded and 
misshapen pagan burning incense before 
the oracle of a joss. There was no mis- 
take. It was low. 

Captain MacWhirr emitted a low 
whistle. He forgot himself till the flame 

1 68 T)^hoon 

diminished to a blue spark, burnt hit 
fingers, and vanished. Perhaps some- 
thing had gone wrong with the thing? 

There was an aneroid glass screwed 
above the couch. He turned that way, 
struck another match, and discovered th*e 
white face of the instrument looking at 
him from the bulkhead meaningly, not to 
be gainsaid, as though the wisdom of men 
were made unerring by the indifference of 
matter. There was no room for doubt 
now. Captain MacWhirr pshawed' at it 
and threw the match down. 

The worst was to come, then, and if 
the books were right this worst would be 
very bad. The experience of the last six 
hours had enlarged his conception of what 
heavy weather could be like. "It'll be 
terrific," he pronounced mentally. He 
had not consciously looked at anything 
by the light of the matches but the 
barometer, and yet spmehow he had seen 
that the water-bottle and glass had been 
flung out of their stand. It seemed to 


Typhoon 169 

give him a more intimate knowledge of 
the tossing the ship had gone through. 
"I would n't have believed it," he 
thought. And his table had been cleared 
too ; his rulers, his pencils, the inkstand, 
— all the things that had their safe, ap- 
pointed places, — ^they were gone from 
them as if a mischievous hand had 
plucked them out and flung them on the 
wet floor. The hurricane had broken in 
upon the orderly arrangements of his 
privacy. This had never happened before 
and the dismay reached the very seat of 
his composure. And the worst was com- 
ing yet ! He was glad the trouble in the 
'tween-deck had been discovered in time. 
If she had to go after all, then at least she 
would n't be going with a lot of people in 
her fighting tooth and claw. That would 
have been odious. And in that feeling 
there was a humane intention and a vague 
sense of the fitness of things. 

These instantaneous thoughts were yet 
in their essence heavy and slow, partaking 

1 70 Typhoon 

of the nature of the man. He extended 
his hand to put back the match-box in its 
corner of the shelf. There were always 
matches there — by order. The steward 
had his instructions impressed upon him. 
**A box — ^just there, see? Not so very 
full — where I can put my hand on it, 
steward. Might want a light in a hurry. 
Can't tell on board ship what you might 
want in a hurry. Mind now.'' 

And, of course, on his side he would be 
careful to put it back scrupulously. He 
did so now, but before he removed h's 
hand it occurred to him that perhaps he 
would never have occasion to use that 
box again. The vividness of the notion 
checked him, and for an infinitesimal 
fraction of a second his fingers closed 
again on the small object. This man, dis- 
turbed by a storm, hung on to a match- 
box absurdly, as though it had been a 
symbol of all those habits that make 
mainfest the reality of life. He released 
it at last, and, letting himself fall on the 

Typhoon 171 

settee, listened for the first sounds of re- 
turning wind. 

Not yet. He heard only the wash of 
water, the heavy splashes and the dull 
shocks of the confused seas boarding his 
ship from all sides. She would never 
have a chance to clear her decks. 


THIS quietude of the air was startlingly 
tense and unsafe, like a slender hair 
holding a sword suspended over his head. 
By this awful pause the storm penetrated 
the defences of the man and unsealed bis 
lips. He spoke out in the solitude and 
the pitch-darkness of the cabin, as if ad- 
dressing another being awakened into a 
stir of life within his breast. 

''I should n't like to lose her/' he said, 
half aloud. 

He sat unseen, apart from the sea, from 

his ship, isolated, as if withdrawn from 

the very current of his own existence, 

where such freaks as talking to himself 

surely had no place. His palms reposed 

on his knees, he bowed his bull-neck and 

breathed heavily, surrendering to a 

strange sensation of weariness, but was 


Typhoon 1 73 

not enlightened enough to recognise in it 
the fatigue of mental stress. 

From where he sat he could reach the 
door of a wash-stand locker. There 
should have been a towel there. There 
was. Good! He wiped his face, theii 
went on rubbing his wet head. He tow- 
elled himself with energy in the dark, and 
then sat still with the towel on his knees. 
A moment passed in which one could not 
have known there was a man sitting in 
that cabin. Then a murmur arose. 
**She may come out of it yet." 
When Captain Mac Whirr came out on 
deck, which he did brusquely, as though 
he had suddenly become conscious of 
having stayed away too long, the calm 
had lasted already more than fifteen min- 
utes — long enough to make itself intoler- 
able even to his imagination. Jukes, 
motionless on the forepart of the bridge, 
began to speak at once. His voice, blank 
and forced, as though he were talking 
through hard-set teeth, seemed to spread 

174 Typhoon 

out on all sides into the darkness, deep* 

ening again upon the confused unrest of 

the sea. 
''I had the wheel relieved. Hackett 

began to call he was done. He 's lying 

in there alongside the steering-gear with 

a face like death. At first I could n't get 

anybody to crawl out. That bo's'n 's 

worse than no good, I always said. 

Thought I would have had to go myself 

and haul out one of them by the neck.'' 

"Ah, well!" muttered the Captain. 
He stood watchful by Jukes's side. 

**The second mate's in there, too, 
holding his head. Is he hurt, sir? " 

"No, crazy," said Captain MacWhirr^ 
with decision. 

"Looks as if he had had a tumble, 

"I had to give him a push," explained 
the Captain. 

Jukes gave an impatient sigh. 

"It will come very sudden," said Cap. 
tain Mac Whirr, * 'and from over there, I 

Typhoon 1 75 

fancy. God only knows, though. These 
books are only good to muddle your head 
and make you jumpy. It will be bad, 
and there 's an end. If we only can 
steam her round in time to meet it I . . . " 

A minute passed. Some of the stars 
winked rapidly and went out. 

"You left them pretty safe? " began the 
Captain abruptly, as though the silence 
were unbearable. 

"Are you thinking of the coolies, sir? 
I figged life-lines all ways across that 
'tween-deck. " 

"Did you? Good idea, Mr. Jukes." 

"I did n't — think you cared to — know," 
said Jukes, — the lurching of the ship cut 
his speech as though somebody had been 
jerking him around while he talked, — 
"how I got on with — that infernal job. 
We did it. And it may not matter in the 

"Had to do what 's fair, for all — they 
are only Chinamen. Give them the same 
chance with ourselves — hang it all ! She 

1 76 T)rphoon ^ 

isn't lost yet. Bad enough to be shut 
up — below in a gale '* 

"That *s what I thought when you gave 
me the job, sir/' interjected Jukes, 

" — without being battered to pieces," 
pursued Captain MacWhirr, with rising 
vehemence. "Could n't let that go on in 
my ship if I knew she had n't five min- 
utes to live. Could n't bear it, Mr. 

A hollow, rolling noise, like that of a 
shout echoing in a rocky chasm, ap- 
proached the ship and went away again. 
-*' The last star, blurred, enlarged, as if turn- 
ing into the fiery mist of its beginning, 
struggled with the colossal depth of black- 
ness hanging over the ship — and went 

"Now for it! " muttered Captain Mac- 
Whirr. "Mr. Jukes." 

"Here, sir." 

The two men were growing indistinct 
to each other. The gathering darkness 

Typhoon 177 

embraced, absorbed their erect figures 
into the opaque gloom. 

"We must trust her to go through and 
come out on the other side. That 's 
plain and straight. There 's no room for 
Captain Wilson's storm-strategy here." 

"No. sir." 

"She will be smothered and swept 
again for hours/' mumbled the Captain. 
"There's not much left ab<)ve deck for 
the sea to take away — unless you or me.** 

"Both, sir?" whispered Jukes, breath 

"You are always meeting trouble half 
way, Jukes," Captain Mac Whirr remon. 
strated, quaintly. "Though it 's a fact 
that the second mate is no good. D' ye 
hear, Mr. Jukes? You would be left 
alone if ** 

Captain MacWhirr interrupted himself, 
and Jukes, glancing on all sides, re. 
mained silent. 

"Don't you be put out by anything," 
the Captain continued^ mumbling rather 

1 78 Typhoon 

fast. "Keep her facing it. They may 
say what they like, but the heaviest seas 
run with the wind. Facing it — always 
facing it — that 's the way to get through. 
You are a young sailor. Face it. That 's 
enough work for any man. Keep a cool 

"Yes, sir," said Jukes, with a flutter of 
the heart. In the next few seconds the 
Captain spoke to the engine-room and got 
an answer. For some reason Jukes ex- 
perienced an access of confidence, a thing 
that came from outside like a warm 
breath and made him feel equal to every 
demand. The distant muttering of the 
darkness stole into his ears. He noted it 
unmoved, out of that sudden belief in 
himself, as a man in a shirt of mail would 
watch a point. 

The ship laboured without intermission 
amongst the black hills of water, paying 
with this hard tumbling the price of her 
life. She rumbled in her depths, shaking 
a white plummet of steam into the night. 

Typhoon 1 79 

and Jukes*s thought darted like a skim* 
ming bird through the engine-room where 
Mr. Rout — good man — was ready. When 

the rumbling ceased it seemed to him that 


there was a pause of every sound, a dead 
pause, in which Captain MacWhirr's 
voice rang out startlingly. 

"What's that? A puff ? *' It spoke 
much louder than Jukes had ever heard it 
before. "On the bow? That's right. 
She may come out of it yet." 

The mutter of the winds drew near 
apace. In the forefront could be distin- 
guished a drowsy, waking plaint passing 
on — and far off the growth of a multi- 
ple clamour, marching and expanding. 
There was the throb as of. many drums in 
it, a vicious, rushing note, and like the 
chant of a tramping multitude. 

Jukes could no longer see his Captain 
distinctly. The darkness was absolutely 
piling itself up upon the ship. At most 
he made out movements, a hint of elbows 
spread out, of a head thrown up. Captain 

i8o Typhoon 


MacWhirr was trying to do up the top 
on of his coat with unwonted haste. 
The hurricane that has the power to mad- 
den the seas, to sink ships, to uproot, 
trees, to overturn strong walls, and dash 
the very birds of the air to the, ground 
had found this taciturn man in its path 
and, doing its utmost, had managed to 
make him loquacious. Before the re- 
newed wrath of the winds swooped on the 
ship, Captain MacWhirr found time to 
declare, in a tone of vexation as it were : 
••I would n't like to lose her." 
He was spared that annoyance. 


WHEN the Nan-Shan came to an 
anchor the sunshine was bright, 
the breeze fresh. She came in from a 
green, hard sea, green like a furrowed 
slab of jade, streaked and splashed with 
frosted silver. Even before her story got 
about, her arrival was noticed on shore 
and the seamen in harbour said: ''Look! 
Look at that steamer. What 's that? 
Siamese — is n't she? Just look at her." 
She seemed indeed to have served as a 
target for the secondary batteries of a 
whole fleet. A hail of shells could not 
have given her upper works a more 
broken, torn, and devastated aspect ; and 
she had about her the worn, weary air of 
ships coming from the far ends of the 
world — and, indeed, with truth, for in 
her short passage she had been very far, 


1 82 Typhoon 

sighting, verily, even the coast of the 
Great Beyond, whence no ship ever re- 
turns to give up her crew to the dust of 
the earth* She was incrusted and g^rey 
with salt to the trucks of her masts and to 
the top of her funnel; as though, as some 
facetious seaman said, "the crowd on 
board had fished her out somewhere from 
the bottom of the sea and brought her in 
here for salvage. ' ' And further, excited 
by the felicity of his own wit, he offered 
to give five pounds for her — "as she 

Before she had been quite an hour at 
rest a meagre little man, with a red-tipped 
nose and a face cast in an angry mould, 
landed from a sampan on the quay of the 
Foreign Concession and incontinently 
turned to shake his fist at her. A tall 
individual with legs much too thin for a 
rotund stomach, and with watery eyes, 
strolled up and remarked : 

"Just left her— eh? Quick work." 
He wore a soiled suit of blue flannel, 

Typhoon 183 

with a pair of dirty cricketing shoes; a 
dingy grey moustache drooped from his lip, 
and daylight could be seen in two places 
between the rim and the crown of his hat. 

"Hallo! What are you doing here?*' 
asked the ex-second mate of the Nan^ 
Shan^ shaking hands hurriedly. 

"Standing by — chance worth taking — 
got a quiet hint/* explained the man with 
the broken hat, in hollow, apathetic 

The second shook his fist again at the 

"There's a fellow there that ain't fit 
to have charge of a scow," he declared, 
quivering with passion, while the other 
looked about listlessly. 

"Is there?" 

But he caught sight on the quay of a 
heavy seaman's chest, painted brown 
under a fringed sailcloth cover, and lashed 
with new manila line. He eyed it with 
pensive interest. 

"I would talk and raise trouble if )b 

1 84 Typhoon 

wasn't for that damned Siamese flag. 
Nobody to go to — or I would make it hot 

for him, the fraud! Told his chief — 


that 's another fraud for you — I had lost 
my nerve. The greatest lot of ignorant 
fools that ever sailed the seas ! No ! You 
can't think . . ." 

"Got your money all right? " inquired 
his seedy acquaintance, suddenly. 

"Yes. Paid me off on board/' raged 
the second mate. " 'Get your breakfast 
on shore/ says he." 

"Mean skunk!" commented the tall 
man, vaguely, and passed his tongue on 
his lips. "What about having a drink 
of some sort?" 

"He struck me," hissed the second 

"No! You don't say!" The man in 
blue began to bustle about exceedingly. 
"Can't possibly talk here. I want to 
know all about it. Struck — eh? Let's 
get a fellow for your chest. I know a 
quiet place." 

Typhoon 185 

Mr. Jukes, who had been scanning the 
shore through a pair of glasses, informed 
the chief engineer afterwards that "our 
late second mate hasn't been long in 
finding a friend. A chap looking uncom- 
monly like a bummer. I saw them walk 
away together from the quay." 

The hammering and banging of the 
needful repairs did not disturb Captain 
MacWhirr. The steward found, in the 
letter he wrote in a tidy chart-room, pas- 
sages of such absorbing interest that twice 
he was nearly caught in the act ; but Mrs» 
MacWhirr, in the drawing-room of the 
forty-pound house, stifled a yawn — per- 
haps out of self-respect. For she was 

She reclined in a plush-bottomed and 
gilt hammock-chair, near a tiled fireplace, 
with Japanese fans on the mantel and a 
glow of coals in the grate. Lifting her 
hands from time to time she glanced 
wearily here and there into the many 
pages. It was not her fault they were so 

1 86 Typhoon 

prosy, so completely uninteresting — from 
"My darling wife" at the beginning to 
"Your loving husband " at the end. She 
could n*t be really expected to understand 
all these ship affairs. She was glad, of 
course, to hear from him, but she had 
never asked herself why, precisely. **. . • 
They are called typhoons . . . not 
in books. . . . The mate did not 
seem to like it . . . could n't think 
of letting it go on. . . ." 

She rustled the pages. ". . . A 
calm that lasted over twenty minutes," 
she read perfunctorily, and the next 
words her thoughtless eyes caught on the 
top of an other page were, " . . . see you 
and the children again. • • /' He 
was always thinking of coming home. 
He had never had such a good salary. 

It did not occur to her to turn back 
over the leaf to look. She would have 
found it recorded there that between 4 
and 6 A.M., on the 25th of December, 
Captain Mac Whirr did actually think that 

Typhoon 187 

his ship could not possibly live in such a 
sea, and that he would never see his wife 
and children again. Nobody was to know 
this (his letters got mislaid and lost so 
often) — nobody but the steward, who had 
been greatly impressed by that disclosure ; 
so much so, that he risked trying to give 
the cook some idea of the "narrow squeak 
we all had" by saying solemnly, "The 
old man himself had a damn poor opinion 
of our chance." "How do you know? " 
contemptuously asked the cook — an old 
soldier. " He has n't told you, maybe? " 
"Well, he did drop something," the 
steward stammered. "Get along with 
you ! He will be coming to tell me next," 
jeered the old cook over his shoulder. 

Mrs. MacWhirr glanced farther, on the 
alert. ", . . do what 's fair. . • . 
miserable objects. . . . Only three, 
with a broken leg each, and one . . . 
Thought had better keep the matter quiet 
. . • hope to have done the fair 
thing. . • .'• 

1 88 Typhoon 

She let her hands fall. No. There 
was nothing about coming home. Must 
have been expressing merely a pious 
wish. Mrs. MacWhirr's mind was at 
ease, and a black marble clock, priced 
by the local jeweller at £3 iSs. td.^ had 
a discreet, stealthy tick. " — 

The door flew open and a girl in the 
long-legged, short-frocked period of exis- 
tence flung into the room. A lot of 
colourless, rather lanky hair was scattered 
over her shoulders. Seeing her mother, 
she stood still and directed her pale, pry^ 
ing eyes upon the letter. 

"From father," murmured Mrs. Mac- 
Whirr. "What have you done with your 

The girl put her hands up and pouted. 

"He's well," continued Mrs. Mac- 
Whirr, languidly. "At least, I think so. 
He never says." She had a little laugh. 
The girl's face expressed a blank, wander, 
ing indifference, and Mrs. Mac Whirr sur 
veyed her with fond pride. 

Typhoon 189 

*' Go and get your hat," she said after 
a while. '^I am going out to do some 
shopping. There is a sale at Linom's.'" 

*'0h, how jolly!" uttered the child, 
impressively, in unexpectedly grave 
vibrating tones, and bounded out. 


THE afternoon was fine; the sidewalks 
were dry. Outside the draper's, 
Mrs. Mac Whirr smiled upon a woman in 
a black mantle of generous proportions, 
armoured in jet, ornate with flowers 
blooming falsely above a bilious matronly 
countenance. They broke into a swift 
little babble of greetings and exclama- 
tions both together, very hurried, as if 
the street were ready to yawn open and 
swallow all that pleasure before it could 
be adequately voiced. 

Behind them the high glass doors were 
kept on the swing, people could n't pass, 
men stood aside waiting patiently, and 
Lydia was absorbed in poking the end of 
her parasol between the stone flags. Mrs. 
Mac Whirr talked rapidly. 

*' Thank you so much! This very day. 


Typhoon 191 

He 's not coming home yet. Of course, 
it 's very sad to have him away, but it 's 
such a comfort to know he keeps so 
well!" Mrs. Mac Whirr drew breath: 
*'The climate there agrees with him," 
she added, beamingly, as if poor Mac- 
Whirr had been away touring in China 
for the sake of his health. 

Neither was the chief engineer coming 
home yet. Mr. Rout knew too well the 
Value of a good billet. 

** Solomon says wonders will never 
cease," cried Mrs. Rout, joyously, at the 
old lady in her arm-chair by the fire. 
Mr. Rout's mother moved slightly her 
withered hands lying in black half-mittens 
on her lap. 

The engineer's wife's eyes fairly danced 
on the paper. 

'"That Captain of the ship he is in — a 
rather simple man — you remember, 
mother? — has done something rather 
clever, Solomon says." 

"Yes, my dear," said the old woman 


192 Typhoon 

meekly, sitting with bowed silvery head, 
and that air of still, far-away meditation 
only very old people have, as if absorbed 
in nursing the last flickers of life, "I think 
I remember." 

Solomon, Old Sol, Father Sol, The 
Chief, "Rout, good man — " Mr. Rout, 
the austere and paternal friend of youth, 
had been the baby of her many children 
— all dead now. And she remembered 
him best as a boy of ten — before he went 
away to serve his time in some great en- 
gineering works in the North. She had 
seen so little of him since ; she had gone 
through so many years that she had now 
to retrace her steps to meet him again in 
the mist of time. Sometimes it seemed 
as if her daughter-in-law were talking of 
some strange man. 

Mrs. Rout, junior, was disappointed. 

H'm, b'm." She turned the page. 

How provoking! He does n*t say what 
it is. Says I could n't understand how 
much there was in it. Fancy! What 


Typhoon 193 

could it be, so very clever? What a 
wretched man not to tell us! " 

She read on without further remark, 
soberly, and at last sat looking silently 
into the fire. The Chief wrote just a 
word or two about the typhoon, but 
something had moved him to express his 
growing desire for the companionship of 
the jolly woman. ''If it hadn't been 
that mother must be looked after, I 
would send you your passage money to- 
day. You could set up a small house out 
here. I could see you sometimes then. 
We are not growing younger. • . ." 

"He's well, mother," sighed Mrs. 
Rout, rousing herself. 

"He always was a strong, healthy boy," 
said the old. woman, placidly. 

But it was Mr. Jukes's account that was 
really animated and interesting. His 
friend in the Western ocean trade im- 
parted it freely to the other officers. * ' A 
chap I know writes to me about an extra- 
ordinary affair that happened on board 


J 94 Typhoon 

his ship in that typhoon — jrou know — ^that 
was in the papers two months ago. It *s 
the funniest thing. Just see for your- 
self what he says. I *I1 show ycu his 

There were phrases in it calculated to 
give the impression of light-hearted in- 
domitable resolution. Jukes had written 
them in good faith, for he felt thus when 
he wrote. He described with likrid effect 
the scenes in th^ 'tween-deck. *'. « . 
It struck me in a flash that those con- 
founded Chinamen could n't tell we 
weren't a desperate kind of robbers. 
' T is n't good to part the Chinaman from 
his money if he is the stronger party. 
We need have been desperate indeed to 
go thieving in such weather, but what 
could these beggars know of us? So, 
without thinking of it twice, I got the 
hands away in a jiffy. Our work was 
done — ^that the old man had set his heart 
about. We cleared out without staying 
to inquire how they felt. I am convinced 

Typhoon 195 

that if they had not been so unmercilully 
shaken, and afraid — each individual one 
of them — to stand up, we would have 
been torn to pieces. Oh! it was pretty 
complete, I can tell you; and you may 
run to and fro across the pond to the end 
of time before you find yourself with such 
a job in your hands. ' ' 

After this he alluded professionally to 
the damage done to the ship and went on 

"It was when the weather quieted 
down that the situation became con- 
foundedly delicate. It was n't made any 
better by us having been lately trans- 
ferred to the Siamese flag; though the 
skipper can't see that it makes any differ- 
ence — 'as long as we are on board/ he 
saya. There are feelings that this man 
simply has n't got — and there 's an end 
of it. You might just as well try to make 
a bedpost understand. But apart from 
this, it is an infernally lonely state for a 
ship to be going about in the China seas 

10 Typhoon 

with no proper Consuls, not even a gun* 
boat of her own anywhere — not a body to 
go to in case of any trouble. 

"My notion was to keep them under 
hatches another fifteen hours or so; we 
were n't much farther than that from 
Fu-chau. We would find there most likely 
some sort of a man-of-war, and once 
under her guns we were safe enough, for 
surely any skipper of a man-of-war, 
English, French, or Dutch, would see 
white men through as far as a row on 
board goes. We could get rid of them 
and their money by delivering them to 
their Mandarins or Two-tail, or whatever 
they call these chaps in goggles you see 
being carried in sedan chairs about their 
stinking streets. 

"'The old man wouldn't see it, some- 
how. He wanted to keep the matter 
quiet. He got that notion into his head 
and a steam windlass could n't drag it out 
of him. He wanted as little fuss made as 
potoible^ 'for the sake of the ship's name 

Typhoon 197 

and the owners, for the sake of all con- 
cerned/ says he, looking at me very hard. 
It made me angry, hot. Of course you 
could n't keep a thing like that quiet, but 
the chests had been secured in the usual 
manner, and were safe enough for any 
earthly gale, but this had been an alto- 
gether fiendish business I couldn't give 
you even an idea of. 

"Meantime I could hardly keep on my 
feet. None of us had had a spell of any 
sort for nearly thirty hours, and there he 
sat rubbing his chin, rubbing the top of 
his head, and so bothered he did n't even 
think of taking his long boots off. 

" *I hope, sir,* says I, 'you won't be 
letting them out on deck before we make 
ready for them in some shape or other ' 
Not, mind you, that I felt very sanguine 
about controlling if they took charge. 
Trouble with a cargo of Chinamen is no 
child's play; I was dam' tired, too. 'I 
wish,' said I, 'we could throw the whole 
lot of these dollars down to them and let 

198 Typhoon 

them fight it out amongst themselves^ 
while we get a rest. ' 

" 'Now you talk wild, Jukes/ says he, 
looking up in his slow way, that makes 
you ache all over, somehow. 'We must 
plan out something that would be fair to 
all parties,* 


" I HAD no end of work on hand, and 

i by-and-by I set the hands going, 
and then I thought I would turn in a bit. 
I had n't been in my bunk ten minutes 
when in rushes the steward and begins to 
pull at my leg. 

** 'For God's sake> Mr. Jukes, come 
out ! Come on deck, quick, sir ! Oh, do 
come out ! ' 

"The fellow scared all the sense out of 
me. I did n't know what had happened 
— another hurricane, or what. Could hear 
no wind. 

** 'The Captain 's letting them out. 
Oh, he is letting them out! Jump on 
deck, sir, and save us. The chief 
engineer has just run below for his 
revolver. * 

"That 's what the fool made me under- 


200 Typhoon 

stand. However, Father Rout swears he 
went in there to get a clean pocket*hand« 
kerchief. Anyhow, I made one jump 
into my trousers and flew on deck aft. 
There was certainly a good deal of noise 
going on where I could n't see forward 
of the bridge. Four of the hands with 
the bo's*n were at work abaft. I passed 
up to them through the sky-light some 
of the rifles all the ships on the China 
coast carry in the cabin and led them on 
the bridge. On .the way I ran against 
Old Sol, looking startled and sucking at 
an unlighted cigar. 'Come along!' I 
shouted to him. 

"We charged, seven of us, up to the 
chart-room. All was over. There was 
the old man, with his sea-boots still 
drawn up to the hips and in shirt-sleeves 
— got warm thinking it out, I suppose. 
Bun Lim's dandy clerk stood at his el- 
bow, as dirty as a sweep and still green in 
the face. I could see directly I was in for 

Typhoon 201 

•* 'What the devil are these monkey 
tricks, Mr. Jukes? ' asks the old man, as 
angry as ever he could* be. I tell you 
frankly it made me lose my tongue. 

*' 'For God's sake, Mr, Jukes/ says he, 
Mo take away these rifles from the men. 
Somebody 's sure to get shot before long 
if you don*t. Damme, if this ship is n't 
worse than Bedlam! Look sharp, now! 
I want you up here to help me and Bun 
Lim's Chinaman to count that money. 
You would n't mind lending a hand, too, 
Mr. Rout, now you are here? The more 
of us the better.' 

"He had settled it all while | was hav- 
ing a snooze. Had we been an English 
ship, or only going to land our cargo of 
coolies in an English port like Hong- 
Kong; for instance, there would have 
been no end of inquiries and bother, 
xlaims for damages, and so on. But these 
Chinamen know their officials better than 
we do. 

'*The old man had the hatches taken 

Z02 Typhoon 

off, and they were all on deck after a 
night and a day down below. It made 
you feel queer to see so many gaunt» wild 
faces together. The beggars were staring 
at the sky, at the sea, at the. ship, as 
though they had expected the whole thing 
to have been blown to pieces. And no 
wonder. They had had a doing that would 
have shaken the soul out of a white man. 
But then they say a Chinaman has no 
soul. He has, though, something about 
him that is deuced tough. There was a 
fellow (amongst others of the badly hurt) 
who had had his eye all biut knocked out. 
It stood out of his head awful swollen, like 
half a hen's egg. This would have laid a 
white man on his back; and there was 
that chap elbowing here and there and 
talking to the others as if nothing was the 
matter. They made a great hubbub 
amongst themselves, and whenever the 
old man showed his bald head on the fore- 
side of the bridge, they would all leave off 
and look at him. 



Typhoon 203 

''After he had done his thinking he 
made that Bun Lim's fellow go down and 
explain to them how they could get their 
money. He told me afterwards that all 
the coolies having worked in the same 
place and for the same length of time, he 
reckoned he would be doing the fair thing 
by them as near as possible if he dis- 
tributed all we had picked up equally 
among the lot. You could n't tell one 
man's dollars from another's, and if you 
asked each man he was afraid they would 
lie and he would find himself a long way 
short. I think he was right there. As to 
giving up the cash into the hands of any 
Chinese official he could scare up in 
Fu-chau, he said he might just as well 
put the money in his pocket at once for 
all the good it would be to them. I sup- 
pose they thought so too. 

"We finished the distribution before 
dark. It was rather a sight : the sea run- 
ning high, the ship a wreck to look at, 
these Chinamen staggering on the bridge 

ao4 Typhoon 

one by one for their share ; and the old 
man, still booted and in his shirt-sleeves, 
solemnly busy paying out, perspiring like 
anything, and now and then coming down 
sharp on myself or Father Rout about one 
thing or another not quite to his mind. 
He himself took the share of these who 
were disabled to them on the No. z 
hatch. There were three dollars left over, 
and these went to the three most damaged 
coolies— one to each. We.tumed to after- 
wards and shovelled out on deck heaps of 
wet rags, all sorts of fragments of things 
without shape, and that you could n't 
give a name to, and let them settle the 
ownership themselves. 

"This certainly is coming as near as can 
be to keeping the thing quiet for the bene- 
fit of all concerned. What 's your opinion, 
you pampered Mail-boat swell? The old 
Chief says that this was plainly the only 
thing that could be done. The skipper 
remarked to me the other day, 'These are 
things you find nothing about in books.' 





Typhoon 205 

I think that he had not done badly for 
such a stupid man. • • •" 


1' n'i^f 9 ■; "^0'^